Sweeping changes have taken place in many parts of the world in the provision and organisation of health care, welfare and other 'public' services. The UK's National Health Service (NHS) has been a prime example of this. This multi-disciplinary collection of essays reviews recent evidence from a major research programme, commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC), into the evolution and impact of contracting in the NHS. Each chapter examines a particular aspect of health and social care, including competition between hospitals and the effects of GP fundholding, and discusses the important theoretical implication of experience in the NHS quasi-market. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in the contemporary debate surrounding the issues.