Warner, M.E. and Robert Hebdon. 2001 "Local Government Restructuring: Privatization and Its Alternatives," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 20(2):315-336. (Earlier version CRP Working Paper #179).
Local government restructuring should no longer be viewed as a simple dichotomy between private and public provision. A 1997 survey of chief elected township and county officials in New York shows local governments use both private and public sector mechanisms to structure the market, create competition and attain economies of scale. In addition to privatization and inter-municipal cooperation, two alternative forms of service delivery not previously researched, reverse privatization and governmental entrepreneurship, are analyzed. Logistic regression on the 201 responding governments differentiates the decision to restructure from the level and complexity of restructuring. Results confirm that local governments are guided primarily by pragmatic concerns with information, monitoring and service quality. Political factors are not significant in the restructuring process and unionization is only significant in cases of simple restructuring (privatization or cooperation used alone). Fiscal stress is not a primary motivator, but debt limits do encourage more complex forms of restructuring. Restructuring service delivery requires capacity to take risks and is more common among experienced local officials in larger, higher income communities. Restructuring should be viewed as a complex, pragmatic process where governments combine public and private provision with an active role as service provider and market player.