The evaluation of public service inspection: A theoretical framework

George Boyne*, Patricia Day, Richard Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Inspection is an important and growing element of the regulation of public services. We develop a theoretical framework for the evaluation of inspection and illustrate the practical relevance of this framework with reference to the new Best Value inspectorate for UK local government. The framework contains three elements that facilitate the effectiveness of an inspection system (a director, a detector and an effector), five potential problems that impede its effectiveness (resistance, ritual compliance, regulatory capture, performance ambiguity and information gaps) and a pivotal mediating variable which is the expertise of inspectors. We combine these variables into a matrix that can be used as a checklist for the evaluation of inspection and we identify hypotheses concerning the circumstances that lead to successful inspection outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1197-1212
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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