How do we build markets when customers don’t pay?

Despite its popularity with politicians (or perhaps partly because of it) public service marketization is rarely discussed in a practical useful way…. ” – the first in a new monthly series of blogs I’m writing for Pioneers Post on social innovation and public service reform. Next two are on: ‘Who pays when the state can’t?’ and ‘Do all public services have to be delivered by professionals?’


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2 responses to “How do we build markets when customers don’t pay?

  1. The stance we’ve taken to the NHS and other public service customers is one of being able to deliver an affordable software product which improves their organisational efficiency, while using our profit to invest in social objectives.

    Like Michael Sandel, we had critiqued the morality of traditional capitalism and it begins with the assertion that all people have rights to the basics of food,and shelter -, a fundamental predicate that no person is disposable in the pursuit of profit.

    I draw attention to a personal expererience of the NHS which relates to Novartis whose product saved my life. Novartis apply what’s know as Creating Shared Value to provide free healthcare to those in the developing world unable to afford their products. In the developed world however, the NHS foots the bill., which means we all pay.

    The premise of Creating Shared Value is that business can profit by solving social problems, yet as I reason , it can only do so by means of maintaining prices that would be unaffordable to me personally
    .In this example, at a personal level along with all taxpayers, l have no choice to pay for Novartis’ philanthropy , while we apply our own profit to a social purpose. .


  2. Alisdair Cameron

    I think saying “customers don’t pay” might be read as misleading: Often there aren’t customers in the more traditional sense, as that role is broken into three (or more) elements, which may, or may well not be in alignment as to desired outcomes.. There are service users, i.e. those who use the service, there are commissioners,brokers or other intermediaries who choose the service, and then there is who ultimately foots the bill, which is an edifice of the State.


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