54th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regional development & globalisation: Best practices", 26-29 August 2014, St. Petersburg, Russia
With the recent global economic and financial crisis, the governments throughout Europe have been closing, concentrating, restructuring or privatizing some public services and, at the same time, the number of services available in electronic platforms (e.g., by Internet or telephone) has been increasing. Nowadays, the need for structural reform and territorial reorganization of many public services is well-known in European countries, as well as in Portugal. The nature and the scope of these reforms depend on several factors related not only to the forces of supply and demand, but also to the social and territorial context. Some countries have already made deeper changes. In September 2013, Netherlands proclaimed the end of the Welfare State (as we know it today in most European countries) and welcomed the beginning of a Participation Society. The public services in Portugal and European countries face many challenges, namely: the redefinition of the concept of public interest; the different roles of central and local government structures/new organizational paradigms; the orientation to the citizen's needs; the incorporation of technology and innovation; the financing systems and their sustainability; and the social and territorial (in)equalities. This communication is the result of PhD research in Geography and Regional Management, started at November 2012 and with a final report due in November 2015. To understand how the Portuguese public services will face the new challenges and trends, I'm doing a revision of state of the art about public services in Europe, their agents and dynamics. With this step, I'm summarizing the past practices and the actual problems, challenges and trends in the supply and demand of public services. I'm also analysing the Portuguese nineteen government programs (between 1974 and 2014), relating them with the administrative reforms and modernizations effectively performed in Portugal. In the final, as a result of the work, I will propose some public polices and strategies about the management and territorialisation of public services.