The Provision of Public Services in Europe
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The Provision of Public Services in Europe

Between State, Local Government and Market

Edited by Hellmut Wollmann and Gérard Marcou

The book is the first of its kind to provide a comparative analysis of the provision of social and public services in France, Italy, Germany, the UK and Norway.
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Chapter 11: From Public Sector-based to Privatized Service Provision. Is the Pendulum Swinging Back Again? Comparative Summary

Hellmut Wollmann and Gérard Marcou


Hellmut Wollmann and Gérard Marcou The research group set up by GRALE with the support of the Villa Vigoni programme has investigated reforms and trends in municipal services in four European countries that reflect very different administrative traditions. The shift from public sector to privatized service provision is common to all countries, although it is less salient in France, where the private sector has been involved for a long time. Nevertheless, there is some indication that we might once again be at a turning point, with the pendulum swinging back to the public sector. This development can be summarized in four steps. First, in line with the historical approach referred to in the introductory chapter, the historical roots of public/social service provision in the local government tradition and their profile in the advanced welfare state in the 1960s and 1970s are briefly recalled. This is followed by summaries of the findings of the policy field chapters. Convergence and divergence in institutional developments since the 1980s are then discussed on the basis of the sectoral policy chapters. Finally, we consider whether traditional local government has been replaced or essentially modified by local governance. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF PUBLIC SERVICE PROVISION Historically, public utilities and social services were largely provided by local government or local charitable organizations. From medieval times, local authority responsibility for the ‘local poor’ made social assistance 240 Comparative summary: is the pendulum swinging back? 241 and care a crucial local commitment. In the face of the mounting sanitary...

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