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Neoliberalism, consultants and the privatisation of public policy formulation: The case of Britain's rail industry

Jupe, Robert E., Funnell, Warwick N. (2015) Neoliberalism, consultants and the privatisation of public policy formulation: The case of Britain's rail industry. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 29 . pp. 65-85. ISSN 1045-2354. (doi:10.1016/j.cpa.2015.02.001) (KAR id:49119)

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Abstract

This paper identifies the importance of policy advisers, particularly consultants, in promoting neoliberal prescriptions in public policy formulation in the recent history of British Government. It examines a consultant-dominated attempt to reform British Rail in the 1980s and the fundamental contribution of advisers to the flawed fragmentation and subsequent privatisation of the rail industry. Concepts drawn from Latour's Sociology of Translation are adopted to examine the attempts by Conservative Governments and their private advisory allies to establish networks of support for privatisation. In each of the episodes along the path to privatisation the paper examines attempts to undermine opposition and gain acceptance of the proposed changes with the production of knowledge claims by consultants, that is Latour's process of purification, followed by the consequences for the rail industry. The paper uses critical financial analysis to contrast the knowledge claims made by consultants with the outcomes of rail privatisation, which include extensive, ongoing transfers from taxpayers to private companies. It concludes by highlighting the dangers ensuing from dogmatic and excessive neoliberal public policy formulation.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.cpa.2015.02.001
Uncontrolled keywords: Rail privatisation; consultants; public sector; Latour; British Rail; Railtrack; Neoliberalism; Accounting firms
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Accounting and Finance
Depositing User: Robert Jupe
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2015 13:34 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2021 15:03 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/49119 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Jupe, Robert E.: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4892-2605
Funnell, Warwick N.: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3089-0908
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