This paper analyses a recent case of contract reversal in the market for ambulance services. Pointing to limits in the contracting out theory, the paper suggests that the sociology of markets-literature helps provide insights into market institutions of profound importance to contracting relations. Building on document analysis and interviews with 19 key stakeholders, it is demonstrated how a regional government in Denmark tried to wrestle the service provision from a long-time private provider and create a competitive market, only to discover that the implementation of the new contract was beset by other obstacles largely stemming from informal rules in the market. The result ended up being what none of the actors had strived for in the first place: a government provided service delivery. Contributing to the emerging literature on reverse contracting, the paper shows how contract reversal can be an unintended result of a failed attempt by government to institute competition in a highly institutionalised market.
About this publication
Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School
Local Government Studies