HomePublic Services, Public Enterprises: What role is left for the Citizens?

Public Services, Public Enterprises: What role is left for the Citizens?

Services publics, entreprises publiques : quelle place pour les citoyens ?

Public Services, Public Enterprises: What role is left for the Citizens?

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Published on Thursday, January 30, 2014 by Rémi Boivin

Summary

Le colloque proposé s’inscrit dans une réflexion essentielle du management public portant sur l’efficacité et l’efficience des entreprises et services publics et sur leur qualité. Son objet est plus précisément d’illustrer les débats récents, en particulier à partir du cas bulgare, plus de vingt ans après le début des réformes du secteur public en Europe centrale et orientale et quinze ans après le début des réformes administratives. Il s’agit également d’échanger sur d’autres contextes, expériences, réformes et réalisations européennes pour argumenter et comparer. Sont attendus spécialistes mais aussi acteurs des services et entreprises publics.

Announcement

Argument

This conference is a part of a critical reflection of public management about the effectiveness and the efficiency of public enterprises and services and their quality. Its purpose is to illustrate in particular the recent debates concerning Bulgarian case, more than twenty years after the onset of public sector reforms in Central and Eastern Europe and fifteen years after the start of the administrative reforms. It is also an opportunity to discuss and compare other contexts, experiences, accomplishments and European reforms.

The general ideology and the practices of the New Public Management seem to have been accepted in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe even better because the economic and political failures in the late 1980s were interpreted as the result of the Party monopoly system and of the Soviet state. The consequences of this system were a lack of competition and accountability of the different actors involved and the impossibility for consumers to choose and for citizens to express themselves. The liberalization of all spheres was then erected as a solution with no alternative. Thus, almost everywhere, the state property, known as “of the people” was transferred to private investors, sometimes foreigners, sometimes from local nomenklatura. With different systems of privatization, the majority of former State enterprises became private or mixed.

After a long period of functioning under a completely nationalized model, many activities in fields as diverse as power communications, education, transport, and energy, became “public services”. Again, the resentment of consumers and users in relation to the quality of services led to liberalization and to the opening of these utilities to privatization and to competition, with different forms of property, recognized as equivalent, and with more or less complex legal arrangements.

However, in a system where the state continues to proclaim its responsibility for meeting the needs of its citizens, the recourse to private sector, if it improves the quality of service provided, shall not limit the right to access to various services. Two non-market constraints appear for such privatized services: the evaluation of the quality of services and the universal access to these services.

In a context of generalized distrust vis-à-vis State services, the management of public services by private companies and operators seems to be the only way to improve their performance.

The New Public Management is another answer to this problem as the objective is not to privatize public services for the improvement of their functioning anymore, but for the integration of tools, methods and ideology of market management. This, however, raises the question of the place of user-consumer in this process. When is he actually consulted about his expectations and needs? How can he, in these situations of quasi-monopoly, express his discontent? He can, in an economy of merchant service, do as “consumer-actor” to the benefit of private companies which know how to gain the loyalty of their customers by meeting their demand, even in anticipation.

This clearly goes beyond the question of the choice between the liberal business model and the participation of and control by the State in a market economy. The accession to the European Union implies an acceptance of an economic model where State and market coexist.

The economy has become de facto mixed. Now it is necessary to question the actual market efficiency, on the one hand, and the organization of inspections of businesses and public services on the other – although so far it has been difficult to reconcile a pressure reduction of tax on businesses and to maintain a level of quality for all in public services, in a quasi-generalized debt context so far. In addition, tax breaks, jobs or subsidized contracts, internships, etc., participate in the functioning of companies, whether public or private. So, is this model really liberal?

The State, as the EU, does not merely have the function of market regulation or of control of working conditions. It is also involved at the level of management methods, as well as directly in the cases of relocation, liquidation or conversion.

Public policy obviously contributes to changing patterns and structures. But does the citizen have the means to actually influence these choices?

Does he have the necessary level of information and knowledge to understand the issues and to determine his positions rationally? The representation of the role of the State depends on the values it carries. History and culture are key determinants of acceptance of the policy followed.

Another strong trend in Europe is the acceptance of the principle of subsidiarity: government decisions are made closer to the citizens. The lowest political level that can solve the problem must have the means to do so. This translates into a willingness of local authorities to participate in decisions, especially economic. As a result, the local communities increasingly become economic actors in charge of supporting business on their territory. For that purpose, they adopt strategies of territorial marketing. For that purpose, they adopt strategies of territorial marketing. The competition, the market regulation mode for the Liberals, the method for improvement of public services for the proponents of NPM, reaches then a third level of achievement.

Many issues must be addressed in the context of transitions and of search of new organizations. How can private actors pursue their own interests by carrying out public engagements? Or what public satisfaction indicators are used to define the priorities of public policies, especially when they are provided by public enterprises?

 The conference proposes three axis of reflection. Firstly, in relation to models of management of enterprises and of mixed economy companies: Is a result-oriented management well suited in the case of public companies in Central and Eastern Europe? What are the limitations of strategic management of public enterprises?

 Second axis: the evaluation of public services. In a context of ongoing budget deficits, the issue of the quality of public services should be treated differently. Should we make a choice between quality and accessibility of public services? What measures are needed to ensure the quality of services without limiting their accessibility?

And least but not least, what are the opportunities and resources provided to citizens to participate in the decision-making process and in the public control of service providers? How can recipients become active and responsible? Finally, what are the possible prospects to incorporate citizen participation in the production and the distribution of public services?

Submission guidelines

Conference languages :

  • Presentation: Bulgarian, English, French,
  • Contributions: English, French

The proposals for papers (title, summary of the proposal – 150 words – 4-6 keywords, personal presentation of authors) should be sent before February, 28th, 2014, to both Antoniy Galabov, antoniy.galabov@abv.bg and Gilles Rouet, gilles.rouet@gmail.com 

The selected papers should be sent before May 1st, 2014 (30 to 40,000 characters).

A publication will be then realised in France and/or Bulgaria.

Scientific committee

  • Christophe Assens, ISM, UVSQ
  • Thierry Côme, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne
  • Serge Dufoulon, Université Pierre Mendès France, Grenoble
  • Jean-Michel Eymeri-Douzans, IEP de Toulouse
  • Ljudmil Georgiev, Nouvelle Université Bulgare, Sofia
  • Antoniy Galabov, Nouvelle université bulgare, Sofia
  • Christelle Perrin, ISM, UVSQ
  • Gilles Rouet, Institut Français de Bulgarie, ISM, UVSQ
  • Tatyana Tomova, Nouvelle Université Bulgare, Sofia

Organization

  • Nouvelle Université Bulgare
  • Laboratoire de recherche sur les politiques publiques
  • Association bulgare des anciens élèves de l’École Nationale de l’Administration
  • Université de Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines
  • Institut Supérieur de Management–LAREQUOI
  • Chaire Jean Monnet ad personam "Identités et cultures en Europe"
  • Institut Français de Bulgarie

Places

  • 3 place Slaveykov
    Sofia, Bulgaria (1000)

Date(s)

  • Friday, February 28, 2014

Attached files

Keywords

  • politiques publiques, services publics, entreprises publiques, qualité, citoyen, management public, construction européenne

Contact(s)

  • Gilles Rouet
    courriel : gilles [dot] rouet [at] uvsq [dot] fr

Information source

  • Gilles Rouet
    courriel : gilles [dot] rouet [at] uvsq [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Public Services, Public Enterprises: What role is left for the Citizens? », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, January 30, 2014, https://calenda.org/274696

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