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Warner, Mildred and Amir Hefetz. 2012. "In-Sourcing and Outsourcing: The Dynamics of Privatization among US Municipalities 2002-2007." Journal of the American Planning Association, 78(3): 313-327.  

Privatization, as in the contracting out of urban services, has been heralded as a reform to promote efficiency and responsiveness in local government service delivery (Osborne & Gaebler, 1992). In the United States, contracting out is a long-standing practice; in fact, many urban services (especially social services) began in the private sector and shifted to public provision during the 20th century. Some argue that renaming such contracting privatization was part of a broader agenda to shrink government and shift the social contract (Feigenbaum & Henig, 1994). For local officials, however, the approach to privatization has been a pragmatic one focused on experimenting with new forms of service delivery in search of cost efficiencies and greater service quality (Bel, Hebdon, & Warner, 2007; Hebdon & Jalette, 2007; Warner & Hebdon, 2001).

This pragmatic approach leads city managers to explore new outsourcing but also to insource or reverse privatize when a contracting effort does not yield the desired results. This has prompted new studies that look at the dynamics of contracting, not as a one-way street toward privatization, but as a two-way street as service production shifts between private and public actors (Brown, Potoski, & Van Slyke, 2008; Hefetz & Warner, 2004, 2007; Lamothe, Lamothe, & Feiock, 2008; Warner & Hebdon, 2001).

This article offers an analysis of the most recent time period for which data are available to explore the dynamics of contracting across U.S.

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Subject: Privatization