Neo-institutionele economie, management control en verzelfstandiging van overheidsorganisaties: overwegingen voor verzelfstandiging en effecten op efficiëntie en financieel-economische sturing


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Since the beginning of the 1980s the role of government has been discussed in the Netherlands and several other Western countries. In the Netherlands this discussion has led to severe changes in the structures and activities of several governmental organizations, particularly since 1985. Deregulation has been introduced, which has meant that, generally speaking, certain laws and rules have become less detailed or totally abolished. Moreover, there has been a tendency to introduce new organizational structures in governmental organizations. These new organizational structures could mean that certain tasks are relinquished, or that the way of organizing activities is changed. A general characteristic of these changes in organizational structures, which can take different forms and/or differ in specific details, is that governmental organizations are now governed in a less centralized way. The general concept of autonomization will be used in this paper to denote the different forms of decentralization. In general, autonomization of public organizations means that the political top management’s direct control of certain tasks or activities will be diminished. External autonomization implies that, legally speaking, an independent organization comes into existence; and the politicians’ responsibilities for the organization are diminished. In the case of internal autonomization the organization remains part of its parent organization, although it gains more freedom to conduct its own business. The political top management retains formal responsibility for the activities of the internally autonomized organization. Internal autonomization includes various forms of what is traditionally termed decentralization or divisionalization. Forms of external autonomization include, for example, privatization, contractorization (contracting-out) and the founding of a public corporation. So, autonomization comprises diverging forms of decentralization and internal and external contracting, of which privatization may be seen as the most extreme opposite of centralized governance. Generally speaking, a stronger form of autonomization means that the organization is subject to more direct influences of the market and/or is governed in a more “businesslike” way; i.e. in such a way that the principles and techniques of business administration play a more important role. This may also make the relationship with (what used to be) the parent organization more businesslike, inducing clearer agreements about prices, quantities and quality of goods and services. The introduction of these new organizational structures/forms can be considered an endeavour to maintain management control over governmental organizations. Management control is the whole range of means and activities through which political and civic managers try to ensure that an organization successfully adapts to changes in its environment, so that its continuity is safeguarded. This research project focuses on two elements, in particular, that may play an important role in management control (and that also might influence each other); i.e. changes in organizational structure (that is to say: the different forms of autonomization) and changes in the financial and economic management of the autonomized organization. Autonomization could be regarded as a change in governance structures or, more broadly, as a change in institutional structures or institutions. Generally speaking, neo-institutional economic theories see a striving for efficiency - or in stronger terms: the necessity for organizations to be efficient in order to survive - as the main reason for changes in organizational structure. The three following research questions were formulated: 1. is it possible to construct a theoretical concept, based on neo-institutional economics, to explain the management control and more specifically the autonomization of (parts of) governmental organizations?; 2. in the Dutch context what elements play a role in the choice of a particular form of management control and autonomization of governmental organizations?; 3. what changes occur in financial and economic management practices when governmental organizations are autonomized? These questions could be studied from, for example, the perspective of political science, sociology, or economics, or a combination of all these perspectives. Although non-economic aspects might also play an important role, the research problem is studied mainly from an economic point of view in this book. The main aim of this study is to gain an insight into the internal organizational processes and the effects of the autonomization of governmental organizations. The problem to be addressed is very complicated because the factors that may play a role are not at all clear. The phenomenon researched and its context cannot be separated clearly, causes and consequences cannot be separated easily, etc. Hence, the form of research that was chosen was case research. Case research was conducted for this study in six (parts of) governmental organizations which were autonomized to different degrees. In one case, autonomization had not been realized at the time of the research, because of serious delays. However, the information about the process of preparing for autonomization was sufficiently extensive and interesting in this case to justify its inclusion.
Originele taal-2Dutch
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • van Helden, Jan, Supervisor
  • Bouma, J.L., Supervisor, Externe Persoon
Datum van toekenning29-jan.-1998
StatusPublished - 1998


  • Proefschriften (vorm)
  • Nederland
  • Management control systems
  • Verzelfstandiging
  • Overheidsinstellingen
  • 88.20

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