Analysing public service outsourcing: the value of a regulatory perspective

Ian Cunningham, Philip James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


This article draws on findings from two longitudinal case studies of voluntary organisations engaged in delivering social care services via purchaser – provider relations with local authorities. The study focuses on changes to contractual relations, employment conditions in provider organisations and service quality. The article argues the influence of the market on these changes can only be adequately comprehended by rooting the analysis in an understanding of the way in which surrounding regulatory frameworks shape its structure and operation. In doing so, it reveals how in an era of shifting market conditions characterised by greater competition and dramatic local authority cuts, a ‘soft’ regulatory framework offers little support to partnership relations between voluntary organisations and local authorities. Instead, the regulatory environment undermines financial security among voluntary organisations, degrades employment conditions in them and raises concerns regarding their service quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-974
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Issue number6
Early online date3 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • regulation
  • social care
  • outsourcing
  • employment conditions
  • voluntary organisations
  • third sector organisation
  • public service
  • new public management


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