Outsourcing, Discretion, and Administrative Justice: Exploring the Acceptability of Privatized Decision Making
Avishai Benish (2014) “Outsourcing, Discretion, and Administrative Justice: Exploring the Acceptability of Privatized Decision Making," Law and Policy 36(2): 113-133.
29 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2014 Last revised: 13 Jul 2016
Date Written: October 2, 2014
This study explores what happens to administrative justice and to the acceptability of frontline decisions in privatized and marketized models of service. Through the case study of privatized welfare-to-work in Israel, it shows the fundamental tension between outsourced discretion and traditional conceptions of administrative justice, in which the trustworthiness of decisions relies on the idea that decision makers have no personal interest in the outcome of their decisions. It finds that in the Israeli case, contractors' financial interests were widely perceived as putting their professionals into a conflict of interest, thereby undermining trust in their decisions. At the same time, the study finds the program's managerial performance mechanisms did not provide an alternative legitimacy argument for the acceptability of decisions. The study also analyzes the ways policy makers reconstructed the decision-making systems to regain public acceptance of frontline decisions, while discussing both the potential and the limits of legitimizing outsourced discretion in such complex public services.
Keywords: Administrative justice, Bureaucratic justice, Discretion, Contracting-out, Conflict of Interest, Welfare-to-Work, Israel, New Public Management, Regulation.
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