Making the Connections? Assessing the reasons for failure of the South East Wales Shared Services Project
University of Wales
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The South East Wales Shared Services project was an investigation into the feasibility and development of a model for sharing and outsourcing key functions across ten local authorities in South East Wales. In 2010, upon the announcement that three of the potential ten participants had officially rejected entrance to the scheme, the initiative was deemed unfeasible and the project closed. This research aims to determine the reasons for the failure of project. In doing so, it examines whether the barriers to entering the service were either explicit in the nature of the business case, or whether other organisational and cultural factors ultimately prevented the project succeeding. In order to achieve this, the investigation examines the context, background and development of the shared services model, its key features, and the risks and benefits involved in entering into the scheme. In doing so, it aims to describe the decision facing the local authorities involved. Then it provides an analysis of relevant literature in the field of shared services, and specifically the barriers to entry for shared services schemes. The research adopts an inductive epistemological approach to investigating forms of primary and secondary data. It first considers three of those local authorities who rejected the proposals and uses content analysis to examine the documented reasons for rejection by analysing full Council reports. Secondly, it aims to look beyond the documented reasons for the rejection, by conducting face-to-face interviews with key staff from one local authority involved in the project and applying similar methods to the analysis. Finally, the piece makes some conclusions and recommendations for further research, with specific advice for the Welsh Assembly Government in the context of its efficiency agenda.
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