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Priorities and Sequencing in Privatization: Theory and Evidence from the Czech Republic

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  • Nandini Gupta
  • John C. Ham
  • Jan Svejnar

Abstract

While privatization of state-owned enterprises has been one of the most important aspects of economic transition from a centrally planned to a market system, no transition economy has privatized all its firms simultaneously. This raises the issue of whether governments strategically privatize firms. In this paper we examine theoretically and empirically the determinants of the sequencing of privatization. First, we develop new and adapt existing theoretical models in order to obtain testable predictions about factors that may affect the sequencing of privatization. In doing so, we characterize potentially competing government objectives as (i) maximizing sales revenue from privatization or public goodwill from transferring shares of firms to voters, (ii) increasing economic efficiency, and (iii) reducing political costs due to layoffs. Next, we use an enterprise-level data set from the Czech Republic to test the competing theoretical predictions about which firm characteristics affect the sequencing of privatization. We find strong evidence that more profitable firms were sold first. This suggests that the government sequenced the sale of firms in a way that is consistent with our theories of sale revenue maximization and/or maximizing public goodwill from subsidized share transfers to citizens. Our results are also consistent with Shleifer and Vishny's (1994) prescription for increasing efficiency when there are political costs to employment losses caused by privatization. We also find that the Glaeser-Scheinkman (1996) recommendations for increasing efficiency by privatizing first firms subject to large informational shocks are consistent with our results. Finally, our findings are inconsistent with the government pursuing a static Pareto efficiency objective. In addition to enhancing the general understanding of privatization, our evidence suggests that many empirical studies of the effects of privatization on firm performance may suffer from selection bias since privatized firms are likely to have observable and unobservable characteristics that make them more profitable than firms that remain under state ownership.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in its series William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series with number 323.

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Length: pages
Date of creation: 01 May 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2000-323

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  1. Barberis, Nicholas & Maxim Boycko & Andrei Shleifer & Natalia Tsukanova, 1996. "How Does Privatization Work? Evidence from the Russian Shops," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 764-90, August.
  2. Stijn Claessens & Simeon Djankov, 1999. "Ownership Concentration and Corporate Performance in the Czech Republic," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 227, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Hingorani, Archana & Lehn, Kenneth & Makhija, Anil K., 1997. "Investor behavior in mass privatization: The case of the Czech voucher scheme," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 349-396, June.
  4. Lawrence J. Lau & Yingyi Qian & Gerard Roland, 1997. "Reform without Losers: An Interpretation of China's Dual-Track Approach to Transition," Working Papers 97048, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  5. Heckman, James J. & Robb, Richard Jr., 1985. "Alternative methods for evaluating the impact of interventions : An overview," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 239-267.
  6. Megginson, William L & Nash, Robert C & van Randenborgh, Matthias, 1994. " The Financial and Operating Performance of Newly Privatized Firms: An International Empirical Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(2), pages 403-52, June.
  7. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  8. Glaeser, Edward L. & Scheinkman, Jose A., 1996. "The Transition to Free Markets: Where to Begin Privatization," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 23-42, February.
  9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane, 1997. "The Benefits of Privatization: Evidence from Mexico," NBER Working Papers 6215, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Svejnar, Jan, 1982. "On the theory of a participatory firm," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 313-330, August.
  11. Aghion, Philippe & Blanchard, Olivier & Burgess, Robin, 1994. "The behaviour of state firms in eastern Europe, pre-privatisation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 1327-1349, June.
  12. Roman Frydman & Cheryl Gray & Marek Hessel & Andrzej Rapaczynski, 1999. "When Does Privatization Work? The Impact Of Private Ownership On Corporate Performance In The Transition Economies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1153-1191, November.
  13. Demsetz, Harold & Lehn, Kenneth, 1985. "The Structure of Corporate Ownership: Causes and Consequences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1155-77, December.
  14. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  15. Vining, Aidan R & Boardman, Anthony E, 1992. " Ownership versus Competition: Efficiency in Public Enterprise," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 205-39, March.
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