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Objectifying trustworthiness: Market formation in the transport policy field

Journal article
Authors Emma Ek Österberg
Published in Financial Accountability and Management
ISSN 0267-4424
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Public Administration
Language en
Keywords market formation, product qualification, public procurement, purchasing strategies, transport policy
Subject categories Public Administration Studies, Economics and Business


This paper addresses market formation in the public sector, particularly questions of how and why market arrangements for public services change, and what it means in terms of governance. The paper presents an in-depth empirical study of a case in the Swedish transport sector, building on sociological research into market formation, particularly the work of Callon, Méadel, and Rabeharisoa on the qualification of products. Given the demand for process-oriented research into market relations, especially in the public sector, this study empirically illustrates how and why roles, relations, and objects are maintained and transformed, and how these features are cocreated in practice. Although previous research has paid relatively little attention to product qualification, this paper demonstrates that it is useful to put this process at the center of the analysis. The present findings emphasize that how products came to be objectified, in terms of provider qualities rather than technical specifications, was the compromise that enabled various logics to be at stake simultaneously. The paper also contributes by demonstrating that NPM reforms of marketization can accommodate far-reaching attempts by public organizations to influence the market, which is especially relevant in markets in which public-sector organizations are dominant purchasers. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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