Thursday, February 01, 2007

Public services, the private sector and social enterprises

This week there have been two interesting articles on the role of the public, private and third sectors in delivering public services.

Stefan Stern in the FT suggests that private sector methods find their limits in the public sector:

People who choose careers in the public sector have usually done so because they want to provide a good service, not because they want to compete commercially with rival companies. The language of markets and "contestability" is lost on them. The management challenge is to raise performance without jeopardising that service ethos.

I think that Martin Narey's article about the prison service makes a strong argument against that. (See my blog post on this article.)

Tim Smit (chief executive and co-founder of the Eden Project) makes the case for social enterprise in the Guardian:

I think it's fantastically exciting, because we can do it and it works. I think social enterprise is the future model for organising our collective state assets.

I certainly agree with that – especially customer-directed mutually-owned organisations such as housing co-ops and community gateway associations.

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