Marketization is an important component of international shifts in the governance of employment services. Despite contrasting underlying welfare systems and employment services of different scale and character, both Denmark and the UK were distinct from many other comparable countries in contracting-out employment services in the late 1990s. We compare the starting positions and divergent trajectories of marketization; then assess the extent to which it delivered on its promises. We find that in neither case did contracting-out reduce bureaucracy; save money through innovation; realise user choice; prevent poor quality services; or increase efficiency/effectiveness through better job outcomes. In the absence of the intended effects, we question why policymakers in such different socio-political contexts continued to support the marketization strategy. The explanation is found in combination with wider governance and policy shifts, which have contributed towards altering the governance mix to reposition key actors and interests in ways that would have otherwise been contested.
Journal of European Social Policy, 2014, Vol 24, Issue 5, p. 455-469