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Economic Principles in the Public and Private Sectors

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The last few years have witnessed repeated claims that entrepreneurial activity can alleviate problems in both the private and public sectors. Furthermore, policy initiatives aimed at increasing financial accountability have been developed for the public sector, encouraging managers to take responsibility for the financial effects of decisions. This paper investigates the understanding of entrepreneurial activity of the Austrian School of economics which, via representatives such as Hayek and Littlechild, has been highly influential on government thinking. The paper argues that recent financial management initiatives in the public sector embody assumptions which directly contradict the Austrian understanding of entrepreneurial action, and that the demand for financial accountability results in grave problems for any attempt to encourage entrepreneurial activities in the public sector.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1988

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