Nonprofits as Local Government Service Contractors


Richard C. Feiock is the Augustus B. Turnbull Professor of Public Administration and directs the Center for Sustainable Energy and Governance at Florida State University. He has published five edited books and monographs and more than 100 journal articles. His work appears in the leading scholarly journals of political science, public administration, and urban affairs. His recent books include City–County Consolidation and Its Alternatives (M.E. Sharpe, 2004) and Metropolitan Governance: Conflict, Competition and Cooperation (Georgetown University Press, 2004). His most recent work, in collaboration with John Scholz, is an edited volume, Self-Organizing Federalism: Collaborative Mechanisms to Mitigate Institutional Collective Action Dilemmas, that will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2009. His current work is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Aspen Institute, and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy.

Hee Soun Jang is an assistant professor in the Division of Politics, Administration and Justice at California State University, Fullerton. Her research and teaching interests are in urban policy making, local government service delivery and contracts, and nonprofit management and organization. In her current project, she focuses on the relationships between local governments and external service providers, such as private and nonprofit organizations and collaborative relationships among local governments for service provision. Her research has appeared in the Public Administration Review, International Journal of Public Administration, and Public Performance and Management Review.


Despite the growing role that contracts with nonprofits play in local service delivery, only limited attention has been directed to why some cities rely more on nonprofit organizations to produce services or how political institutions influence the role nonprofits play in service delivery. To investigate these issues, the authors present a transaction cost explanation that focuses on how political system characteristics and structures of service markets shape the costs of negotiating, monitoring, and enforcing contracts for local governments. The findings indicate that forms of government, mayoral turnover, racial segregation, and the market of nonprofit producers influence the role of nonprofits in delivering elder services, but decisions to contract exclusively with nonprofits are subject to different influences than decisions to jointly produce service with a nonprofit organization.