73220 - Local Public Services Policies

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Clean water and sanitation Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students are expected to know the various options and policy instruments for the management and delivery of local public services; they will be able to analyse and understand the governance mechanisms typical of the various organisational arrangements, and in particular the role played by local governments in the selection of management models, in the establishment of public-private relations, and in the promotion of mechanisms of democratic control and accountability; they will also be able to critically reflect upon possible innovations for the improvement of such services.

Course contents

The course will offer an overview of the organizational solutions and policy instruments currently available for public administrations to manage and deliver local public services, as well as their effects on local governance and territorial representation. The Italian case will receive special attention, but its specificity will be confronted with other European experiences.

The first part of the course (20 hours) will be devoted to a general and conceptual introduction to public services, to the analysis of the national legal frameworks and policy legacies, as well as to an in-depth discussion of the organizational solutions available to local governments in Italy and abroad (direct management, private-law companies fully or partially owned by municipalities, institutional public-private partnership, concession to private operators etc.).

The second part (20 hours) will concentrate instead on the analysis of the specific organizational solutions used by local governments in two domains: water and sanitation services and waste management. Special attention will be paid to the circular economy approach and the innovations it entails.

Specific case studies will be examined and discussed in order to better understand the influence of contextual factors on local governments' choices, as well as to grasp the complexity of regulation and control mechanisms once applied in the local governance framework.


  • M. Bianco e P. Sestito (a cura di), I servizi pubblici locali, (solo Introduzione e capitoli 1 e 2), Bologna, Il Mulino 2010.
  • G. Citroni, Governo S.p.a. Pubblico e privato nelle società partecipate degli enti locali, in Rivista Italiana di Scienza politica, n. 1/2009, pp. 87-112.
  • G. Citroni, A. Lippi e S. Profeti, Politica e politiche delle società partecipate. Le aziende dei comuni come unità di analisi della democrazia locale, in Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica, n. 1/2013, pp. 29-55.
  • F. Becchis, Le fatiche del regolatore: fattori di debolezza nella regolazione dei servizi pubblici locali, in Economia Pubblica, n. 1/2003, pp. 103-121.
  • G. Citroni, M. Cerruto e C. Dallara, Il «contracting out» come problema di organizzazione, amministrazione e policy, in Amministrare, n. 3/2017, pp. 373-403.
  • S. Profeti, A. Prontera e S. Ravazzi, Una mappa delle fonti per l'analisi della contrattualizzazione nei Comuni, in Amministrare, n. 3/2017, pp. 339-372.
  • S. Profeti e Valeria Tarditi, Whatever works? Varieties of local public service delivery between instrumentality and legitimacy, «STATO E MERCATO», 2021, 122, pp. 201 - 233.
  • T. Nabatchi, A. Sancino e M. Scilla (2017), Varieties of Participation in Public Services: The Who, When, and What of Coproduction, in Public Administration Review, vol. 77, n.5, pp. 766–776.
  • S. Profeti e V. Tarditi (2019), "Le pratiche collaborative per la co-produzione di beni e servizi: quale ruolo per gli Enti locali?", in Le Istituzioni del Federalismo, n. 4/2019.
  • C. Carrozza, La riforma italiana dei servizi idrici. Modi locali di governo fra continuità e rottura, in Rivista Italiana di Politiche Pubbliche n. 1/2008, pp. 5-36.
  • A. Massarutto, "Tra il legiferare e il fare", in Privati dell'acqua? Tra bene comune e mercato, Il Mulino 2011, pp. 47-86.
  • G. Citroni e A. Lippi, Pubblico e privato nella governance dei rifiuti in Italia, in Rivista Italiana di Politiche Pubbliche n. 1/2009, pp. 71-108.
  • L. Gherardi, "Perché parlare di economia circolare?", in Equilibri n. 1/2019, pp. 61-68.
  • M. Frey, "Politiche pubbliche per incentivare l’economia circolare", in Equilibri n.1/2019, pp. 110-115.
  • Commissione europea, "L’ECONOMIA CIRCOLARE.
    Collegare, generare e conservare il valore"
  • S. Profeti, "Verso una geografia variabile dei servizi pubblici locali di tipo ambientale. La gestione di acqua e rifiuti nelle regioni italiane", in S. Bolgherini e C. Dallara (a cura di), La retorica della razionalizzazione. Il settore pubblico italiano negli anni dell'austerity, Bologna, Misure – Materiali di Ricerca Istituto Carlo Cattaneo, 2016, pp. 131-155.
  • S. Bolgherini, C. Dallara e S. Profeti (2019), A shallow rationalisation? 'Merger mania' and side-effects in the reorganisation of public-service delivery, in Contemporary Italian Politics, n.2/2019, pp. 112-136.

All chapters and journals articles will be collected and made available on virtuale.unibo at the beginning of the course.

Teaching methods

Lessons of the teacher, as well as in-class seminars and teamworks on specific case studies. Class attendance is strongly recommended.

Assessment methods

The exam is written. Three open-ended questions will aim at testing student's knowledge of the key concepts and information explained during the course, and their capacity to critically discuss the various topics learned.
Students attending the course may substitute the written exam with an original research paper (max 10 pages) focused on a topic coherent with the course. A list of possible topics, as well as specific guidelines on how to build and write the paper, will be provided by the teacher.

Teaching tools

Powerpoint presentations (available before each class); videos; newspaper articles.

Office hours

See the website of Stefania Profeti