Mildred E. Warner

Cornell University
City and Regional Planning

215 W. Sibley Hall
Department of City and Regional Planning
Ithaca, NY
14853 |  Visit Personal Website

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My research focuses on local government service delivery - especially the impacts of privatization and devolution on efficiency and equity in public service delivery. I also study economic development policy at the local level and consider the importance of investments in physical infrastructure as well as social infrastructure. One strand of my work addresses child care and other work-family supports and their role on economic development. I also have a strand of research that looks at the planning across generations - the role of planners in creating cities friendly to families with young children, seniors and caregivers. My work is both domestic U.S. and international in scope.

Warner, M. E. 2012. “Privatization and Urban Governance: The Continuing Challenges of Efficiency, Voice and Integration,” Cities, 29(Supplement 2) s38-s43.
Abstract: Privatization has been promoted as an urban reform for more than 40 years. Although cities around the world have pursued privatization, it has not delivered the promised efficiency. Privatization has been promoted as an urban reform for more than 40 years. Although cities around the world have pursued privatization, it has not delivered the promised efficiency, voice and service integration gains. City managers recognize the challenges of market management for urban service delivery and the critical difference between a citizen and a consumer. This has led to new hybrid forms of service delivery which jointly engage public, private and citizen groups. However, concerns over efficiency, voice and equity remain.
DOI: DOI 10.1016/j.cities.2012.06.007
Hefetz, Amir and Mildred E. Warner 2012. “Contracting or Public Delivery? The importance of service, market and management characteristics,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 22(2): 289-317.
Abstract: Analysis of local government contracting decisions typically focuses on transactions costs related to service characteristics, especially asset specificity and difficulty of contract management. This analysis expands the focus to include market characteristics (competition), citizen characteristics (public interest in the service delivery process), and place characteristics (metro status and public management). A 2007 survey of U.S. city managers? rankings of 67 services by transactions costs, competition and citizen interest is combined with a 2007 national survey of city managers? sourcing decisions (direct public, inter-government cooperation, for profit and non-profit contracting). Multinomial logit models of service delivery sourcing choice find metro status and competition are key explanatory variables. Inter-governmental cooperation represents an important public market alternative when contract management is difficult and competition is low. For profit contracting is less common when citizen interest is high and competition is low. Governments with professional managers appear more effective in addressing citizen interests, political and labor opposition and market management challenges.
DOI: DOI 10.1093/jopart/MUR006
Warner, Mildred E. (2011).Competition or Cooperation in Urban Service Delivery? Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 82(4): 421-435.
Abstract: Inter-municipal cooperation is now as common among US local governments as for profit privatization. This article uses data from a national survey in 2007 to explore the benefits of cooperation - economies of scale, service coordination across the metropolitan region and greater community control. While privatization reforms have focused on harnessing the benefits of a competitive market, cooperation may be the new frontier where economies of scale and efficiency gains can be achieved with governments working together in a new form of collaborative service delivery.
Hefetz, Amir, Mildred E. Warner and Eran Vigoda-Gadot, 2012. Privatization and Inter-Municipal Contracting: US Local Government Experience 1992-2007, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 30 (4): 675-692.
Abstract: Local government scholars are giving increasing attention to market solutions to urban service delivery. Inter-municipal contracting and privatization are two market approaches to reach economies of scale. Using national data on over one thousand municipalities from across the United States for the 1992-2007 period, we explore the differences between inter-municipal contracting and privatization and assess how the use of these market approaches relates to efficiency, scale and public engagement factors. Using probit models for each of four survey years (1992, 1997, 2002, 2007) we find these market solutions are only partial responses to the problem of regional coordination and exhibit important differences with respect to place, management and political concerns. These market solutions exhibit limited efficiency, equity and voice benefits.
DOI: doi:10.1068/c11166
Girth, A., A. Hefetz, J. Johnston and M.E. Warner 2012. “Outsourcing Public Service Delivery: Management Responses in Noncompetitive Markets,” Public Administration Review, 72(6): 887-900.
Abstract: Capturing the benefits of competition is a key argument for outsourcing public services, yet public service markets often lack sufficient competition. We use survey and interview data from U.S. local governments to explore the responses of public managers to noncompetitive markets. Our research indicates that competition is weak in most local government markets (less than two alternative providers on average across 67 services measured), and that the relationship between competition and contracting choice varies by service type. Public managers respond to sub-optimal market competition by intervening with strategies designed to create, sustain, and enhance provider markets. In monopoly service markets, managers are more likely to use intergovernmental contracting, while for profit contracting is more common in more competitive service markets. The strategies public managers employ to build and sustain competition for contracts often require tangible investments of administrative resources that add to the transaction costs of contracting in noncompetitive markets.
DOI: DOI: 10.111/j.1540-6210.2012.02596.x.
Warner, Mildred and Amir Hefetz (2012), In-Sourcing and Outsourcing: The Dynamics of Privatization among US Municipalities 2002-2007, Journal of the American Planning Association, 78(3): 313-327.
Abstract: Problem, research strategy, andfindings:While contracting for the private delivery of public services is common,reversals from private to public provision are also common. Indeed, our U.S. data indicate insourcing (reverse contracting) is roughly equal to the level of new outsourcing for 2002–2007. We analyze these data to better understand how city managers decide to privatize services, or to reversetheir privatization. The International City/County Management Association collected survey data on the form of service delivery for 67 local government services;they also report many community characteristics and city manager opinion data we can use to explain that choice. Our statistical models suggest that transactions costs,market management, monitoring, and political interests are all associated with the decision to contract, or to reverse contract.Municipalities appear to experiment by outsourcing those services with high transactions costs, while insourcing reflects a lack of cost savings and the challenges oprivatized services. Alternatively, mixed public and private delivery (concurrent sourcing) promotes competition andprovides the capacity for public provisionshould contracts fail.
DOI: DOI:10.1080/01944363.2012.715552
Warner, Mildred E., and Raymond Gradus. 2011. “The Consequences of Implementing a Child Care Voucher: Evidence from Australia, the Netherlands and USA.” Social Policy and Administration. 45 (5): 569-592.
Abstract: In the Netherlands, the U.S.A. and Australia public funding has promoted parental choice by introducing a voucher for child care, where parents are free to choose the provider. The policy experiments in these three countries and the outcomes provide useful information about the consequences of introducing a voucher in the child care market. We show the voucher system can be effective in increasing demand, but there can be uneven supply responses. The structure of the voucher income scheme and quality controls affect the nature of the supply response. We argue that voucher schemes must take into account the complex nature of the child care market and the substitutability among free public care, private market care and unpaid household care. To secure quality and access, government must also play a coordinating role that vouchers alone can not supply.
DOI: DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9515.2011.00787.x
Bel, Germ, Xavier Fageda, and Mildred E. Warner. 2010. "Is Private Production of Public Services Cheaper than Public Production? A meta-regression Analysis of Solid Waste and Water Services." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 29 (3): 553-577.
Abstract: Privatization of local government services is assumed to deliver cost savings but empirical evidence for this from around the world is mixed. We conduct a meta-regression analysis of all econometric studies examining privatization for water distribution and solid waste collection services and find no systematic support for lower costs with private production. Differences in study results are explained by differences in time-period of the analyses, service characteristics, and policy environment. We do not find a genuine empirical effect of cost savings resulting from private production. The results suggest that to ensure cost savings, more attention be given to the cost characteristics of the service, the transaction costs involved, and the policy environment stimulating competition, rather than to the debate over public versus private delivery of these services.rnrn

Substantive Focus:
Economic Policy SECONDARY
Social Policy
Comparative Public Policy
Urban Public Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Analysis and Evaluation