Risk and Public Services Conference

ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, London School of Economics and
ESRC Public Services Programme, Oxford University

13 to 14 December 2007
London School of Economics

This conference is jointly convened by CARR and the Public Services Programme at Oxford University.

We welcome expressions of interest in attending the conference. Please see below.

Any questions regarding the conference should be directed to Mr Rikki Dean at the Public Services Programme, via: rikki.dean@politics.ox.ac.uk.

About the conference

Risk is fundamental to the provision of public services. Yet the links between risk and public services have not received the attention they deserve. Transport, health, education and the control of crime are among the most publicly visible and politically sensitive public services, even in the current era of markets and quasi-markets. Organizations that provide such services both respond to risks in their environment, and create risks to others. MRSA infections, prison escapes, and the abuse of children or the elderly are just some of the most prominent recent examples. But debates about public services across at least the past two decades have tended to frame the issues wholly or primarily in terms of markets and monitoring. This conference seeks to redress this neglect, and to reframe the debate about public services in terms of risk. Risk management systems are rapidly proliferating, in an attempt to formalise and control for such risks. Risk aversion, blame avoidance and blame management are central preoccupations of those designing such systems. The aims of this conference are to explore:

What, if anything, is distinctive about risks that arise in the provision of public services, as compared to other kinds of activity?

What are the risk consequences of different ways of managing and organizing public services, such as partnership arrangements versus single-organization provision, self-insurance versus external insurance, and control by explicit metrics versus control by the management of implicit tensions?

What is the scope, and what are the limits of formal risk management systems for the control of strategic, financial/legal, operational, reputational and political risks in public services?

The conference seeks to explore these questions by addressing generic cross-cutting issues, and by examining a number of substantive public service domains. There will be a dialogue between established scholars and those earlier in their careers, as well as a dialogue between academics and practitioners. A central theme of the conference will also be the comparison of UK experience in public service risks with experience from other countries with different state traditions, including those in the developing world.

How to express interest in attending the conference

If you would like to attend, please contact Mr Rikki Dean, via: rikki.dean@politics.ox.ac.uk.

Please include the following information:
1. full name;
2. title;
3. university affiliation;
4. the nature of your interest in the conference;
5. email address; and
6. postal address.

We welcome and will consider all expressions of interest but advise that places are limited.

PLEASE NOTE: The sessions are open to registered delegates only. Attendance at any session requires conference registration.

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