Consumer sovereignty and quasi-market failure

David Lowery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


This article explores the concept of quasi-market failure in order to develop a coherent and consistent critique of such quasi-market institutions as vouchers, contracting, and the Tiebout model. After discussing the use of consumer sovereignty as a criterion by which to assess failure, three sources of quasi-market failure are examined: failure in quasi-market formation, failure by preference error, and failure by preference substitution. Each is illustrated with examples from the empirical literature. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of quasi-market failure both for quasi-markets and for justifying reliance on the more traditional progressive reform institutions of public-service provision and production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-172
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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