Who is Driving the Bus? - An Exploratory Study of Actors’ Perceptions of Accountability in The Swedish Public Bus Sector
The past decades New Public Management (NPM) reforms in the public sector have changed how the mechanisms of accountability work. One type of reform is the privatization of public service provision. These services are today often procured with extensive regulations involved. Many academics argue, under the concept of juridification, that legal institutions have a bigger impact than policies in these activities today (Magnussen & Nilssen, 2013; Blichner & Molander, 2008; Laughlin & Broadbent, 1993) and that the legal contract plays an important role in governing them (Camén, 2011; Brown & Potoski, 2005). In this study we explore how the actors involved in provision of public services perceive accountability. We do this by investigating how politicians, civil servants and service providers involved in the provision of public bus services in Sweden perceive their roles, the procurement regulations’ roles and the legal contracts’ roles. We conclude that, in the case where the service provider is a private company, the legal contract plays an important role in how the accountability is perceived by the actors involved. Further research is needed to see if our results also apply to the contexts of other provisions of public services.
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