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Productivity in the Urban Public Sector

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ostrom, Elinor
Conference: Conference on Comparative Urban Policy Research
Location: University of Chicago
Conf. Date: April 26-27, 1979
Date: 1979
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/206
Sector: Urban Commons
Subject(s): Workshop
urban affairs
service delivery--measurement
public service
Abstract: From page 1: "A critical issue in comparative urban policy research pertains to the productivity of agencies supplying urban public services. Many problems associated with the urban crisis relate to the failure of such urban public services as police, education, welfare, waste collection and disposal, and transportation. Productivity is defined here as the difference between: (1) the value of the output of urban delivery systems and (2) the value of the inputs used by such systems, while (3) controlling for the costs of production under different service conditions.1 Productivity is a more complex phenomenon than many subjects of comparative urban research since it is not an attribute of any specific actor. We cannot simply agree upon a definition and apply a measurement instrument to a single source of data as we can with attributes of citizens, street-level bureaucrats, and public officials-or other actors. (Even this process is difficult as witnessed by the extended debates over such measures as IQ.) Productivity is measured by computing the relationship among three quite complicated concepts: (1) the inputs for an urban delivery system, (2) the outputs produced by that system, and (3) the relevant service conditions."

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