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Between Markets and Networks: The Reform of Social Care Provision in the UK

Author(s): Ian Kirkpatrick

Journal: Revista de Análisis Económico (RAE)
ISSN 0716-5927

Volume: 21;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 43;
Date: 2006;
Original page

For over two decades there have been attempts across many countries to reform the management of public services and substitute market based provision for bureaucracy. But while these changes have been pursed vigorously, doubts about their appropriateness, feasibility and effectiveness remain. The aim of this paper is to contribute to this debate focusing on the specific case of social care markets in the UK. Drawing on ideas from institutional theory and a range of secondary sources it is argued that, in the UK, broad policy objectives of moving towards a mixed economy have been largely successful. However this review also points to costs associated with implementation and the reliance on low trust arms length contractual relations. Social care organisations are now seeking to manage these costs by attempting to move towards more collaborative networks, although the effectiveness of this change is open to question given prevailing institutional conditions in the UK.
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