Stewarding Thin Markets: Improving NDIS market effectiveness and equity

Project Details

"Improving NDIS market effectiveness and equity" asks what helps to manage the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) market so that services remain available, accessible and of good quality.  This project aims to develop methodologies to identify thin markets in the public service sector. Thin markets, where there are a low number of buyers or low number of sellers, are a major risk for governments utilising a personalised approach to service delivery. When markets aren’t in place, or there aren’t enough providers within them (known as market failures or thin markets) the goals of the NDIS to create choice and control for people with a disability cannot be reached.


We are developing innovative new methods to allow governments to track markets in contexts like the NDIS. We are using a new method called ‘Functional Network Analysis’ in three case study areas across Australia - Canberra region, north east Melbourne area and the Goldfields in Western Australia. Through interviews and focus groups we will bring together practitioners, service providers, and government to identify how, and who, can address market issues.  This process develops ‘market stewardship’ capabilities for the NDIS.


A/Professor Gemma Carey, University of New South Wales
Professor Helen Dickinson, University of New South Wales
Professor David Gilchrist, University of Western Australia
Dr Damon Alexander, Swinburne University
Professor Anne Kavanagh, University of Melbourne
Professor Satish Chand, University of New South Wales


Department of Social Services and National Disability Services


Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, 2018 – 2021

Research Outcomes

  • Actions government can take to address thin markets and market gaps in the NDIS - The Mandarin
  • The economics of mental health, The Lucky Country Podcast with Richard Dennis Episode 2
  • What NDIA’s complaints tell us about outsourcing administration - The Mandarin
  • Explainer: how much does the NDIS cost and where does this money come from? - The Conversation
  • The vexed question of market stewardship in the NDIS - The Mandarin
  • NDIS hiccups are expected, as with any large-scale social reform -  The Conversation
  • Protecting equity in the National Disability Insurance Scheme - The Mandarin,
  • The NDIS costs are on track, but that doesn’t mean all participants are getting the support they need - The Conversation

Research Publications

All our research publications are available for download here.

  1. Malbon E, Alexander D, Carey G, Reeders D, Green C, Dickinson H & Kavanagh A. Adapting to a marketized system: Network analysis of a personalisation scheme in early implementation. Health Social Care Community, 27 August 2018 (Epub).
  2. Malbon E, Carey G, Reeders D. Mixed accountability within new public governance: The case of a personalized welfare scheme in early implementation. Social Policy & Administration, 17 September 2018 (Epub)
  3. Malbon E, Carey G, Reeders D. Accountability within new public governance and the case of the Australian National Disability Scheme’Social Policy and Administration, 2018, 1-14.
  4. Needham C & Dickinson H. Any one of us could be among that number: Comparing the Policy Narratives for Individualized Disability Funding in Australia and EnglandSocial Policy and Administration, 2018, 52; 731-749.
  5. Carey G, Malbon E, Olney S & Reeders D. The personalisation agenda: the case of the Australian National Disability Insurance SchemeInternational Review of Sociology, 2018, 28:1, 20-34.
  6. Malbon E, Carey G & Dickinson H. Accountability in Public Service Quasi-markets: The Case of the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme, Australian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 77, pp. 468-481.
  7. Carey G, Malbon E, Reeders D, Kavanagh A & Llewellyn G. Redressing or entrenching social and health inequities through policy implementation? Examining personalised budgets through the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme’, International Journal for Equity in Health, 2017, 16:192.
  8. Dickinson H. Individual funding systems: what worksEvidence Base Journal,  6 October 2017.
  9. Carey G & Dickinson H. A longitudinal study of the implementation experiences of the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme: Investigating transformative policy changeBMC Health Services Research,  17 August 2017.
  10. Carey G, Kay A & Nevile A. Institutional legacies and ‘sticky layers’: what happens in cases of transformative change?Administration and Society, 19 April 2017  (Epub).
  11. Dickinson H & Carey G. Managing care integration during the implementation of large-scale reforms: The case of the Australian National Disability Insurance SchemeJournal of Integrated Care, vol. 25, pp. 6-16.
  12. Green C, Malbon E, Carey G,  Dickinson H & Reeders D.  Competition and collaboration between service providers in the NDIS, Centre for Social Impact, University of New South Wales 2018.

Research Group

Disability and Health Unit

School Research Themes

Data science, health metrics and disease modeling, Disparities, disadvantage and effective health care

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Centre for Health Equity

MDHS Research library
Explore by researcher, school, project or topic.