The Termination of Public Organizations: Theoretical Perspectives to Revitalize a Promising Research Area

Abstract

While many studies deal with comparative public sector reform, the fundamental question of whether and to what extent states are actually able to abolish parts of their administrative structure remains untackled. Despite some efforts to solve this puzzle, the topic remains underestimated. This article identifies the main conceptual and theoretical problems associated with existent research on the termination of public organizations. Furthermore, the article systemizes various causal factors of termination into two broad dimensions: “organizational stickiness” and “political incentives.” Taken together, these constitute a typology, which is able to guide future empirical investigation of the termination of public organizations.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    E.g. the article by Robert Behn “How to Terminate a Public Policy: A Dozen Hints for a Would-be Terminater” (Behn 1978) and the conceptual framework by Kirkpatrick et al. (1999).

  2. 2.

    Note that Carpenter and Lewis assume “that agency defection and failure are exogenous” (Carpenter and Lewis 2004, p. 206).

  3. 3.

    Carpenter and Lewis “posit an a dynamic utility function under which a politician’s losses are equivalent to (1) those costs accruing from defections and failures while the agency is still alive, plus (2) expected losses from termination of the agency under an optimal policy” (Carpenter and Lewis 2004, p. 210).

  4. 4.

    For the discussion of the literature see Kuipers and Boin (2005, p. 3–5) and for the operationalisation Kuipers and Boin (2005, p. 7–8).

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Correspondence to Christoph Knill.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 1 Different definitions and operationalizations
Table 2 Different samples but one source of data
Table 3 Contributions from case studies
Table 4 Factors analyzed systematically

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Adam, C., Bauer, M.W., Knill, C. et al. The Termination of Public Organizations: Theoretical Perspectives to Revitalize a Promising Research Area. Public Organiz Rev 7, 221–236 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-007-0033-4

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Keywords

  • Termination
  • Public organizations
  • Policy termination
  • Administrative reform