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Keywords:

  • Contracting;
  • entrepreneurial strategies;
  • landscape stewardship;
  • public service economics;
  • user-orientation
  • Q28;
  • H44;
  • B52;
  • R52;
  • Q21

Abstract

We argue that public service economics provides a new perspective on landscape stewardship by explaining it as human-to-human transfer of partial property rights. These mutually linked exchanges involve rights to use, to access, or to control and allocate land, labour, skills or information. From the perspective of public service economics, we identify the actors involved in landscape stewardship and distinguish entrepreneurial strategies for service provision based on resource orientation, user orientation or competiveness orientation. The difficulties in evaluating the quality of services in general and landscape stewardship in particular result in substantial uncertainty. Three types of contracts that cope differently with this uncertainty can be distinguished: contracts focusing on the technical process, on the intended outcome or on the choice of suppliers based on trust and features of their performance potential. We conclude that a service economics perspective can add to the understanding of landscape stewardship. Due to the fact that ‘public service’ is already a well-known and broadly acknowledged concept in society, public service economics could possibly provide more rapid progress towards a better co-ordination of supply and demand for landscape qualities than other more novel concepts.