Le Grand: ‘Public services can be delivered by knights and knaves mutually’

By David Bicknell

Mutuals taskforce chairman Julian Le Grand has written this piece in the Guardian, which argues that when it comes to the delivery of public services, no one type of provider  i.e. the public monopoly, is suitable for all services.

Neither is a private firm nor a social enterprise automatically the best alternative. Even employee-led mutuals, he argues, are not appropriate in all circumstances: they may not be suitable for services that are natural monopolies, for instance.

He adds that it is of fundamental importance to consider what motivates those who work in the service. Only if they are appropriately motivated, he suggests, will those working in the public services deliver the quality of service that governments hope for and that users expect.

2 responses to “Le Grand: ‘Public services can be delivered by knights and knaves mutually’

  1. Pingback: Tri-borough mutual plans to save £1m in costs for London councils | Campaign4Change

  2. I have long followed Professor Le Grand’s work on the role of contestibility and choice in the public sector. I think he’s on the money (in case he cares)

    In 1997 he wrote this

    Click to access Knights,_Knaves_or_Pawns.pdf

    He wrote about this in the Guardian about a decade ago.


    I also recommend “The Other Invisible Hand” Princeton, 2008

    What is the public sector doing in the light of all this high quality thought?

    Largely ignoring it. For example, they could have not built the car tax disc online service, by giving a stack of tax discs to online insurance companies, discussed here: http://www.opensourceconsortium.org/content/view/132/89/

    Except that would have involved “doing nothing” the least acceptable option for public sector ICT


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