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Article Summary

Miranda, Rowan and Allan Lerner. (1995). "Bureaucracy, Organizational Redundancy and the Privatization of Public Services." Public Administration Review 55(2): 193-200.

In this article Miranda and Lerner draw on redundancy theory and empirical evidence to further the debate on privatization of public services. The authors discuss the possible advantages of an intermediate form of privatization, which they refer to as benchmarking, where controlled competition is used to minimize the dysfunction of monopoly bureaucracy(194).

The introduction of redundancy in public service delivery allows for the same service to be provided by more than one organization. The article presents several ways of introducing redundancy 1) intra-government redundancy, 2) private/ private redundancy, and 3) a mixture of public and private provision where the government would contract portions of the service to outside providers. Redundancy helps establish competition and allows for measurements of comparative benefits between different providers of the same service. In this case benchmarking represents an informed pragmatism in the search for improved organizational forms for the delivery of public services (194).

This article expands on the current theoretical framework for privatization of public services and provides a possible alternative that would enhance competition. Miranda and Lerner delineate evidence from past studies to suggest that privatization alone does not lead to better quality or cost reduction in public service delivery. Without competition, service delivery moves from public to private monopolies. They argue that organizational redundancies in service delivery are perhaps a means for averting monopoly outcomes(p. 197).