When public agencies seek to privatize a service, a commissioning process begins wherein public sector budgeters must decide how generous the funding will be while taking occupational standards into account so that the quality of service is assured. One important area of occupational standards is the required personnel and job sizes of certified employees. Not enough attention has been directed to how occupational standards’ related knowledge is treated in the process. Purpose: Firstly, investigating how the commissioning process is experienced by Israeli, often female, occupational standards administrators. Secondly, proposing a gendered perspective on Sennett’s corrosion of character thesis. As part of an institutional ethnography project, 16 interviews were conducted with (14 female and 2 male) occupational standards administrators at the Israeli Welfare, Education and Health Ministries. The routine of commissioning involves a stage of using occupational standards’ knowledge and experience, and a stage of dismissing it. The ‘corrosion of character’ embedded in the dismissal stage undermines historical achievements in the area of recognizing caring work and skills. While Sennett’s thesis has already been found plausible for understanding public servants’ experiences of the “new public management”, until recently, not enough attention has been devoted to the commissioning processes’ gendered implications for contract-based delivery of services. This paper examines these implications for the power struggle between the feminist achievements protecting skill recognition in caring occupations, and policy makers.
Benjamin, Orly. “Negotiating Job Quality in Contracted-Out Services: An Israeli Institutional Ethnography.” In The Post-Fordist Sexual Contract: Working and Living in Contingency (ed. Lisa Adkins and Maryanne Dever; Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016): 149-69.
I forward an analysis of the process of preparing contracts themselves prior to service operation, and the negotiations between various public sector administrators that shape employees’ job quality. I make use of Dorothy Smith’s (2005) methodology of institutional ethnography for the purpose of understanding how job quality is shaped for both certified and uncertified employees in the social services commissioned by the Israeli Welfare, Education, and Health ministries.
Segev, Galit, Sarit Nisim, and Orly Benjamin. “Corporate Social Responsibility as Shaped by Managers’ Role Dissonance: Cleaning Services Procurement in Israel.” Journal of Business Ethics 130 (2015): 209-21.
Public procurement provides an excellent window into the shaping of corporate social responsibility of companies contracted by the government. To this emerging scholarly realization, we want to add that public procurement provides also the opportunity to examine corporate social responsibility as practiced by public sector organizations. This opportunity enables the investigation of the conditions under which public sector organizations endorse CSR guidelines, adherence to which demonstrates accountability for their service providers’ legal, employment-related practices. Our study examined the possibility that public sector organizations’ CSR is enhanced by maintenance managers’ role dissonance emerging in response to an ethical mismatch between them and their organizations’ official stance concerning whether unethical employment practices of service providers should be sanctioned. We analyzed interviews with 13 managers in charge of contract administration in the area of cleaning and maintenance. Our findings suggest that the role dissonance that emerges in cases of mismatch in ethical orientation rarely enhances more responsible treatment of cleaning employees. We introduce a model indicating the conditions supporting this incident.
Since the 1970s, the literature on privatization has tried to find the right balance between the public interest and the neoliberal spirit of modern economies. This paper examines the implications of one such process – the privatizing of policy formation. Using examples from Israel, we maintain that allowing private interests to formulate public policy is unique among other types of privatization strategies. We seek to identify the challenges and risks that such an approach to formulating public policy poses. We conclude that the privatizing of far-reaching policies should be done with caution and within parameters outlined by law in order to prevent the potential damage that such privatization efforts might have on democratic governments.