Why sharing is the future business: Public Administration Perspective
It has been known in the study of public administration that the initiative for improving the performance of public organisation is very much borrowed from the private sector. In 1993, Osborne & Gaebler has, for instance, established ten principles to reach the entrepreneurial government. It offers ways to constitute an entrepreneurial, flexible and outcome-oriented organisation of the public sector. Furthermore, the concept of New Public Management that emphasises on economic rationalism and private sector management practices has also been adapted across nations. The implementation of information technology into business practices has also driven public organisations to launch e-government to transform the way they engage with citizen and business. Recently, under the ideas of entrepreneurial government and New Public Management, the duty of many public organisations has been commissioned to other parties, including private sector.
Having understood the Mesh Economy (Gansky, 2010), it can be argued that the principles of Mesh Economy can appropriately be applied in public organisation for several reasons. Firstly, it is the principle of partnership and other parties’ involvement. Strategic Commissioning in public organisation stresses the importance of partnership and involvement of other parties. It aims at reducing overlap and duplications, and further creating scope for efficiency and savings. This is an idea that is very much in-line with Mesh Economy which highlights business operation through collaborative approach to provide organisations with better idea that allows customer to receive flexible and more sustainable products and services.
Secondly, the principle of sustainability and global anti-waste approach in the Mesh Economy, which is structurally reduced to the amount of garbage, is similar with the principle of sustainable management of services and assets demands in strategic commissioning. In the strategic commissioning, it focuses on the quality and value for money -not necessarily at lowest cost- so that the more is achieved with the less in an environmentally friendly way.
Thirdly, consumer driven free economy in the Mesh Business is similar with co-production in strategic commissioning of public organisations. While the Mesh business addresses people and sends them recommendations and/or advertising messages based on their personal behavioural patterns, co-production service users know things that many professional do not know hence the services can be made more effectively to the extent of which they adhere to its requirements. Co–production conceives the services users as active asset-holders rather than passive consumers. Therefore, both Mesh Business and Co-production empower and build trust in customer/consumer. Customer in Mesh Business build trust by disclosing personal behavioural pattern, while in co-production users, citizens, partners and voters build trust in the work of public sector including the risks of losing the shared assets with other parties.
Sharing is the future business of private sector, and that it will also be the future of public organisation as both share common characteristics. However, there are lesson learned for public organisation from the Mesh Economy.
Firstly, the mesh economy is based on strong relations with customer, as it is in more frequent contact with customers, it gives the Mesh Economy a greater flow of customer data which at the end make the business successful by making more profit. Even though profit is not raison d’être of the public organisation, it is still valid to have a good relations with citizen. Public organisations also generate billions of citizen data which eventually will be useful to perfect the public organisations performance in providing public services. Public organisations need to learn from the Messy Business on how utilize the ongoing connections with citizen and to use the citizen data constructively to serve citizen better.
Secondly, it is the issue of managing resources efficiently. The rule of thumb in mesh business is ‘ownership is out, access is in’. It means that mesh business can and do deploy assets they don’t own but can easily access. It is rightful for public organisation to apply this as the potential for efficiency and saving a huge amount of money is high. Learning from this will enable public organisations to channel its budget for betterment of public service provision. Furthermore, as public organisations or governments or local governments suffer from financial burden, the need to share rather than buying and owning stuff is more appropriate.
Thirdly, public organisations will need to learn from the mesh economy on how to design a public services that is more resilient so that they could last longer even after multiple uses by different members or users. Every public services need to meet the four criteria of mesh product, it should be durable (well-built and safe), flexible (accommodates different users), repairable (has standardize parts that allow easy repair) and sustainable (reduces natural resources waste).
To conclude, sharing as the core concept of the mesh economy is essential to be applied in public organisation setting. Its principle is needed for public entrepreneurs to level up public organisations’ performance.
PhD candidate in Institute of Local Government – University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, and Japan Indonesian Presidential Scholarship awardee.