The inter-communal management of social care services: ahead, slowly. The case of Piedmont Region
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The development of inter-communal management of social care services is important both to produce economies in services delivery and to foster homogeneity of services. For the last twenty years Regional governments have played a prominent role in this regard, but only partial results have been achieved. The article focuses on the case of Piedmont Region and it is based on a combination of desk analysis, in-depth interviews and review of service providers’ websites. The study highlights that in Piedmont Region the inter-communal management of social service has slowly made a step forward: the number of service providers has decreased from 65 in the 2004 to 49 in 2020 due to some mergers. Moreover, the study sheds light on the reasons that make the mergers between service providers particularly difficult. Mergers imply perceived costs mainly concentrated on local political actors and local social care professionals, whereas they potentially have positive impacts diffused on the entire community. Therefore, local political actors and local professionals often mobilize against mergers in the absence of a symmetrical mobilization of the public opinion in favour of mergers. In this scenario mergers can only succeed through long and uncertain negotiations to reach an agreement at the local level.