Accountability in Public Services: Exit, Voice and Control

Autor(es) : Samuel Paul

This paper argues that the positive impact of public accountability on public service performance and governance in general can be augmented by moving away from an exclusive reliance on control mechanisms such as hierarchical monitoring and use of organizational incentives to a system that uses “exit” or “voice” mechanisms in conjunction with control. Whether the public will resort to exit or voice will depend on the relative costs associated with these options and the expected value to them of the performance improvement resulting from their use in a specific context. Public services can be categorized in terms of the exit and voice potential they afford the public by reference to certain barriers and characteristics. The paper provides a framework for the analysis of the features and barriers of public services and of the publics involved that can be used to predict the potential for the use of exit and voice in specific service contexts. A menu of options for improving public accountability through the use of exit and voice mechanisms and their policy implications are also presented.

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Copyright Pergamon Press Ltd. 1992