Barbara Giullari Silvia Lucciarini

Same job, different conditions. Comparing direct and indirect employment via procurement in public services in Italy

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The privatisation and outsourcing of public services in Western capitalism have played a massive role in the welfare recalibration strategy. That externalization has been implemented mainly through public procurement, where public authorities buy services from private contractors. In public service offices, direct and indirect employees share duties and tasks but have access to different working conditions and protections. In our analysis, we have investigated the convergence/ divergence between direct and indirect employees in public services, mainly education and social care, comparing attitudes and perceptions of 100 workers (50 direct, 50 indirect) on working conditions, level of protection, satisfaction, associational behaviour – union membership and professional organisations – and demand of representation. An «organisational boundary» emerged, in that the work process was structured by public management without taking into account the different nature of the employees (direct and indirect) and their professionalism on the one hand; and on the other hand, direct and indirect employees share objectives and goals in the workplace, but answer to different organisations (public and contractors), each of which embodied its repertoire, values, and different working conditions.


  • care work
  • welfare mix
  • public procurement
  • organisational boundary
  • representation system


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