Because of differences in institutional arrangements, public service markets, and national traditions regarding government intervention, local public service provision can vary greatly. In this paper we compare the procedures adopted by the local governments of The Netherlands and Spain in arranging for the provision of solid waste collection. We find that Spain faces a problem of consolidation, opting more frequently to implement policies of privatization and cooperation, at the expense of competition. By contrast, The Netherlands, which has larger municipalities on average, resorts somewhat less to privatization and cooperation, and more to competition. Both options-cooperation and competition-have their merits when striving to strike a balance between transaction costs and scale economies. The choices made in organizational reform seem to be related to several factors, among which the nature of the political system and the size of municipalities appear to be relevant. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.