Public goods: from market efficiency to democratic effectiveness
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Khoo, S. (2014) 'Public goods: from market efficiency to democratic effectiveness ' In: Robertson, Andrew(Eds.). Commonwealth Governance Handbook 2013/14. London : Commonwealth Secretariat.
This contribution examines the concept of public goods,responding to calls to rethink public goods given a changedcontext (Desai, 2003: 73) and widening global scope (Kaulet al, 2003; Kaul, 2006). The first section explores publicgoods as a concept framed in terms of economic efficiency and market failure . The next section notes atransition from market-failure to state-failure theory, leavingpublic goods at an impasse. The discussion comparesdiffering perspectives and assumptions about the role andcharacter of individual and collective action, public serviceand government. It examines the contention that efficientmarkets may not do (Bator, 1958; Bozeman, 2002),contrasting mainstream economics concerns with marketfailure with alternative ideas of public-value failure (Bozeman, 2002; Haglund, 2010) and obnoxious markets (Kanbur, 2001). The following section identifies alternativeeconomic traditions and looks to a new conceptualisationof public goods. Adapting global public goods theory, a new public goods approach represents a departure fromconventional economics. It supplements the ideas of analternative, or other , economic canon with democraticconcerns and questions of public value . The conclusionconsiders proposals for public goods based on this newapproach and some policy implications that might follow.
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