The implementation of best value: an empirical investigation

Higgins, Paul (2005) The implementation of best value: an empirical investigation. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This thesis is concerned with the transition from compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) to best value (BV) in local government. Based upon primary research conducted in three local authorities, between 2000 and 2003, it examines the differences between the two policies at both a national and local level and considers how far BV represents an advance over CCT. More specifically, the study addresses four key objectives. These are to review the rationale, policy, outcome and impact of CCT; to trace the rationale and development of BV and to examine critically the attributes of it that can be seen to represent an improvement on CCT; to compare empirically the implementation of BV policy within three specifically chosen contexts; and to examine how far the claimed attributes of BV appear, in practice, to resolve the difficulties the Labour Government identified with CCT. In completing the empirical objectives of the thesis, case study research was conducted in three local authorities using a threefold combination of in-depth semi-structured interviews, documentary analysis and observations. In each case, the research began by tracing the experience of CCT in the services of interest before moving on to an examination of the implementation of the BV review process and the response of the BV inspectorate to it. The findings obtained from the three case studies were then compared to identify the impact of four key attributes of BV that had earlier been identified as representing potential sources of advance over the system CCT - 'public involvement,' 'flexible tendering', 'public-private partnerships' and 'inspection'. Overall, the case study findings suggest that whilst the four investigated attributes of BV have gone some way to improve upon the situation under CCT, in doing so, they have also created a new set of complications and controversies that, arguably, stem from the fact that BV remains overly committed to counteracting the potential perceived threat posed by the state provision of public services. Consequently, whilst the official raison d'etre of BV is to continuously improve the performance of local services, underlying and at times conflicting with this objective is an attempt to ensure a mixed economy of local service provision which necessitates a degree of central control that interferes negatively with much of the potential that the policy has to offer. As a result, while the policies of CCT and BV clearly differ in terms of their means and impact, it cannot straightforwardly be concluded whether the introduction of the latter has resulted in a significant advance on the former.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: B. > Theses
Item ID: 13402
Depositing User: Adam Miller
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2014 13:37
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 02:23

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