The constraining effect of incomplete contracts on the public reporting of waste management data
Oosthuizen, H and Willett, R and Wilmshurst, T and Williams, B, The constraining effect of incomplete contracts on the public reporting of waste management data, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 26, (4) pp. 370-385. ISSN 1448-6563 (2019) [Refereed Article]
This article assesses the extent to which incomplete contracts and agreements in waste management limit accountability to stakeholders. The theory of incomplete contracts holds that contracts are under-specified in areas where transaction costs in controlling contingencies exceed the perceived benefits to be derived from such control. A textual analysis of the narrative embodied in public policy documents, the corporate plans of an
Australian regional waste management authority and its member councils, and transcripts from interviews with key actors, indicate complex contractual relations resulting from commonwealth and state waste policies. The study finds transaction costs are the
immediate cause of incomplete contracts in the provision of waste data. The resulting agency problem could be alleviated by designing a more complete social contract, through legislation and regulations specifying minimum data requirements in contracts to outsource waste management. Improved regulation would facilitate more effective policing of illegal stockpiling of wastes and reveal the impact of the recently increased waste disposal to landfill on proximate amenities such as property values.
environmental management accounting, local government, incomplete contracts, social contract, waste management