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International Conference on Reflections in Development Studies

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - 08:00


University of Cape Coast (Main Auditorium)

The Institute for Development Studies is calling for papers to its 2nd bi-annual International Conference on Reflections in Development between 1st and 3rd June, 2016 at the University of Cape Coast.

Public service delivery was initially the preserve of state. Increasingly since the 1980s however the trend has shifted to contracting private entities to deliver public services under the pretext of creating competitive markets, infuse efficiency, reduce cost and provide wider choices to citizens. Many observers admit the need to modernise the public sector and deal with pertinent issues of efficiency and performance. There is however great contestation about the choice of private interest as a solution to public sector reform. The increasing transfer of such services to private interests has come under severe criticism. The general conclusion is that the faith in the private sector to deliver where the public falters is not borne by the evidence.
Unsurprisingly trade unions have been the most vociferous in the condemning public service privatisation pointing out several instances to justify their rejection. Concerns include the detrimental impact on labour. Beyond job losses are employment security and poor working conditions. Services delivered outside the public sector have often made worse the problems they were set up to solve hardly justifying the investments. There are several instances of outright failure to deliver quality service or save cost. In a number of instances efficiency has been achieved at the cost of squeezing out access to lower income groups. An additional concern is the cost to the public purse when private participation fails with unintended fallouts like the loss of professionalism and the disappearance of certain specialised skills. Yet globally all governments are resorting to the privatisation of public services as the only solution to state indebtedness.
The need to debate the fallout and point to alternatives has never been more imperative. Already there are suggestions for adopting a ‘public value’ option that provide users and citizens a voice in determining the nature and content of public services and conditions under which they are delivered. Such an approach is envisaged will ensure universally accessible service delivery within the context of greater accountability. Others insist on the right to recall in cases of failure to meet standards. The questions arising are the extent to which such propositions allow a debate of the main superstructure and offer room to evolve alternative development strategies that responds to the needs of citizens and not private capital.

This conference seeks to bring together academics, researchers, labour leaders and activists to debate development alternatives that respond social needs.
The conference will therefore provide a space to:

  • Debate how changes in publically funded services affect people and places within and across countries;
  • Describe the scale and scope of public service outsourcing, key sectors affected, impact on working conditions, commitment and professionalism;
  • Design standards for evaluating the value for society created by public services;
  • Identify a set of policy recommendations to address specific issues related to the public service privatisation.

Thematic areas

  1. Public sector reforms and labour 
    a. Trade Unions and public service performance management
    b. Public sector wages and salaries reforms 
    c. Gender and labour rights
    d. Employment standards and collective bargaining
    e. Market led reforms and informality
  2. Public sector reforms and environment
    a. Land reforms
    b. Land grabs
    c. Gender roles and environmental management
    d. Urbanisation
    e. Extractivism
    f. Managing climate change
  3. Public sector reforms, peace and conflict
    a. Offender management
    b. Gender inequality and social cohesion
    c. Land related conflict
    d. Social inequality and political dissent
    e. Environmental justice
  4. Public sector reforms and governance
    a. Procurement standards and public accountability
    b. Localism and decentralisation
    c. The politics of Gender rights
    d. Outsourcing and public/private partnerships
    e. Reforms and the politics of popular organs
    f. Democracy/market interface and labour rights
  5. Debating development alternatives within the context of public sector reforms:
    a. Alternatives to market-led reforms 
    b. Gender and development theory interface 
    c. Alternatives to public sector management 
    d. Evaluating public sector policy reforms
    e. Debating the public value alternative

                                                   Click here to register


Who's Invited?: 

Academics, Researchers, Labour leaders and activists




Institute for Development Studies

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