This article examines the sub-national diversity in activation quasi-markets in the United Kingdom (UK). Through comparison of four active labour market programmes in Great Britain and Northern Ireland between 2008 and 2014, the article clarifies and maps intra-UK diversity in employment service governance and unpacks the shifting configurations of market structures in each jurisdiction to reveal a temporally and spatially distinct patterning of marketisation. Drawing on Gingrich's approach to analysis and classification of quasi-market variation, the article proposes that between 2008 and 2014, Great Britain rapidly evolved a provider-directed activation market. In contrast, the activation market structure in Northern Ireland, up to late 2014, is better characterised as state directed. A recent reconfiguration of the activation market in Northern Ireland does however indicate some (modified) convergence on Great Britain's approach. One common and consistent feature of the configuration of activation markets in each jurisdiction is the few powers given to direct users of employment services to shape contracted out provision.
- public employment service