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Commission incomplete: exploring the new model for purchasing public services from the third sector

Rees, James; Miller, Robin and Buckingham, Heather (2016). Commission incomplete: exploring the new model for purchasing public services from the third sector. Journal of Social Policy, 46(1) pp. 175–194.

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The concept of commissioning has risen in prominence in recent years as a result of ongoing reforms to the funding and delivery of public services in the UK. The model of commissioning constructed by policy has however been overlaid on existing practices, which themselves differ between different service areas. This paper, focusing on commissioning of third sector organisations (TSOs) in the field of community mental health services, shows that its introduction has not led to the straightforward public sector ‘marketisation’ that advocates desire or that critics fear. Instead, commissioning has led to an indeterminate outcome or 'halfway house' position in which the status and role of commissioning remains somewhat muddled – both internally to participants within public sector organisations and externally in terms of the experience of the interface by TSOs. We found that commissioning as it is actually practiced remains contested and political – it is a highly relational process dependent on personal practices and skills and on personal relationships between stakeholders – and is therefore not fully managerialised or marketised. This has implications for the policy and practice of commissioning and the interpretation of more 'open' public services.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2016 Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 1469-7823
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Third Sector Research CentreNot SetESRC
Keywords: commissioning; public services; procurement; voluntary sector; marketisation
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 46448
Depositing User: James Rees
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2016 12:44
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2019 03:18
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