Faced with declining budgets and rising demand for services, many governments are looking to improve efficiency and effectiveness by redesigning organisational structures and processes. Much attention has been on corporate support services, like finance, procurement, legal and HR. These play a vital enabling role in the delivery of public policies, and are often provided close to the frontline. But is this the best strategy?

In this policy memo, Dr Thomas Elston sets out key recommendations for how governments can and should strike a balance in sharing services between different organisations and departmental needs. It will be of particular interest to those in finance ministries and civil service departments, as well as people in organisations who advise governments around the world, such as management consultancies and think tanks.

The research behind this Policy Memo was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The Blavatnik School of Government held a conference on the opportunities and challenges of shared services in September 2014, also supported by the ESRC.