Contractual Governance: Institutional and Organizational Analysis
Posted: 29 Feb 2008
This paper focuses on the role of contract as a governance mechanism in contemporary economic and social relations, exploring this theme in the context of recent writing on contract and contracting within law and other disciplines. The trends towards both outsourcing by private firms and privatization of public services have increased the importance of contract as an instrument of market and quasi-market exchange. Such organizational developments have been accompanied by institutional changes in the way in which business relationships are regulated through legal and extralegal norms and other constraints in the contractual environment. Contract is also being deployed increasingly as an instrument of regulation of social relations between the state and citizens in the fields of welfare, education and criminal justice. Following Macneil, the paper develops a methodology for assessing the quality of different types of relationship-between buyers and sellers, purchasers and providers, providers and consumers, regulators and regulatees, government and governed, and state agencies and citizens-according to the relationality of 'contract' norms. Drawing on theories of responsive regulation, the paper explores the institutional and organizational conditions of responsive contractual governance in selected areas of market, quasi-market, and social relations. The underlying argument is that the core values of democracy, participation, and citizenship have a central part to play in the determination of responsive regulatory policy. We should aim to increase the level of public participation in decisions concerning organizational and institutional frameworks, so that citizen and consumer interests may adequately be represented in the determination of optimal forms of governance.
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