Governing Infrastructure in the Age of the 'Art of the Deal': Logics of Governance and Scales of Visibility

(2018) PoLAR - Political and Legal Anthropology Review 41(S1): 118-132.

UNSW Law Research Paper No. 18-81

19 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2018 Last revised: 12 Nov 2018

See all articles by Mariana Valverde

Mariana Valverde

University of Toronto - Centre of Criminology

Fleur Johns

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law

Jennifer Raso

McGill University, Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 18, 2018

Abstract

Many different types of organizations provide public services or goods and build public works without being, strictly speaking, part of government. Such entities tend to be seen as more innovative than government proper, both because of their organizational autonomy and because they primarily use private-law techniques (contracts, mainly) and lay claim to private sector credentials. This article examines the presumed correlation between moves towards greater public-private hybridity in government and public sector innovation, using illustrative examples from Ontario and British Columbia, Canada. Combining interviews with professional infrastructure deal-makers, direct observation of public infrastructure workshops, and analyses of the documents that constitute infrastructure deals, we show that the quest to bring virtues and techniques associated with private enterprise to the delivery and governance of public goods and services often leads to a dialectical reversal. At first, bureaucratic rules do give way to the pursuit of more or less sui generis deals. But the entities that initiate deals and partnerships soon come to feel the need to standardize the process, which then leads to the return of standard templates and surprisingly rigid rules.

Keywords: governance, public-private partnerships, transparency, public sector innovation

Suggested Citation

Valverde, Mariana and Johns, Fleur E. and Raso, Jennifer, Governing Infrastructure in the Age of the 'Art of the Deal': Logics of Governance and Scales of Visibility (September 18, 2018). (2018) PoLAR - Political and Legal Anthropology Review 41(S1): 118-132., UNSW Law Research Paper No. 18-81, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3251486

Mariana Valverde

University of Toronto - Centre of Criminology ( email )

Robarts Library
130 St. George Street, Room 8001
Toronto, ON M5S 1A5
Canada
416-978-6438 x.229 (Phone)
416-978-4195 (Fax)

Fleur E. Johns

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law ( email )

UNSW Australia
Sydney, New South Wales 2052
Australia
+61 2 9385 9893 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/profile/fleur-johns

Jennifer Raso (Contact Author)

McGill University, Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Room 506
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1W9
Canada

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