Contracting accountability in network governance structures

Publisher's full text
Lisa Hansson
Frode Longva

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how accountability is expressed in contractual arrangements found in network governance structures that provide public transport services and to raise discussion of how to understand contracting accountability in network governance contexts. Design/methodology/approach - The paper is rooted in two research traditions: contracting studies and studies of accountability in government/governance contexts. Content analysis is used in examining contracts from two cases. These contracts are of five types: contracts between public organizations, contracts within a public organization, contracts between public organizations and private firms, and contracts between political parties within a municipality and contracts within a network. Various contracting approaches are identified within these types. Findings - The paper concludes that the contractsà functions differ between the cases. The first case did not have an overall contract that defined the network, relying on different two-party contracts instead. In the other case, an incentive-based contract was used to link the organizations. From an accountability perspective, the latter contracting structure clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the actors and increases the possibility of accountability to citizens. Originality/value - The paper brings new insights to the field of contracting and accountability by focusing on the role of contracts in network governance structures, taking account of various accountability relationships. It also contributes new theoretical categories usable when analysing contracting accountability in a network context.

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