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Liberalization And Privatization Of Public Utilities: Origins Of The Debate, Current Issues And Challenges For The Future

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  • Giuseppe Bognetti
  • Gabriel Obermann

Abstract

Public utilities, public enterprises, privatizations, liberalizations and related topics have been the object of far reaching and intense debate among economists, politicians and practitioners for more than a century. Ideas have frequently changed, and practical solutions chosen to manage public utilities have also undergone significant changes over time. Presently we are witnessing a renewed debate on the relative opportunity of public and private enterprise. In the last twenty years privatization and liberalization have dominated the field. The outcome of this process has produced mixed results. Merits and demerits of privatization, liberalization and regulation are reviewed and discussed in the first part of the paper. The second part of the paper provides an overview of the scientific work of CIRIEC related to issues of public enterprises and services of general interest. It refers primarily to relevant research activities done in the International Scientific Commission 'Public services/Public enterprises'. Over the past two decades CIRIEC contributed some recognized theoretical and empirical studies dealing with the functioning, governance and reform of public enterprises, based on an international perspective. Theoretical arguments and empirical findings put forward in this paper leads to the conclusion, that the often stated dominant position against public enterprises is not at all convincing. In order to arrive at a fair and valid evaluation of public utilities, it is indispensable to look more closely to the particular circumstances of the technological, economic and social environment and the goals of the provision of a concrete service of public interest. Copyright © 2008 The Authors Journal compilation © CIRIEC 2008.

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  • Giuseppe Bognetti & Gabriel Obermann, 2008. "Liberalization And Privatization Of Public Utilities: Origins Of The Debate, Current Issues And Challenges For The Future," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 79(3-4), pages 461-485, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:annpce:v:79:y:2008:i:3-4:p:461-485
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Carole RENTSCH & Matthias FINGER, 2014. "Yes, no, maybe: the ambiguous relationships between State-owned enterprises and States," Departmental Working Papers 2014-05, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    2. Andrea ZATTI, 2012. "New Organizational Models In European Local Public Transport: From Myth To Reality," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 83(4), pages 533-559, December.
    3. Judith Clifton & Daniel Díaz‐Fuentes & Marcos Fernández‐Gutiérrez & Julio Revuelta, 2011. "Is Market‐Oriented Reform Producing A ‘Two‐Track’ Europe? Evidence From Electricity And Telecommunications," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 82(4), pages 495-513, December.
    4. Mbuvi, Dorcas & Tarsim, Achraf, 2011. "Managerial ownership and urban water utilities efficiency in Uganda," MERIT Working Papers 036, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    5. Barbara ANTONIOLI & Antonio MASSARUTTO, 2012. "The Municipal Waste Management Sector In Europe: Shifting Boundaries Between Public Service And The Market," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 83(4), pages 505-532, December.
    6. Pier Angelo Mori, 2013. "Customer ownership of public utilities: new wine in old bottles," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 2(1), pages 54-74, August.
    7. Silvia FISSI & Elena GORI & Alberto ROMOLINI, 2013. "Local Authority versus Local Public Utilities: A Governance Issue," REVISTA ADMINISTRATIE SI MANAGEMENT PUBLIC, Faculty of Administration and Public Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 2013(20), pages 35-48, June.
    8. Andrea ZATTI, 2011. "Organizational models in European local public transport: is the new paradigm really dominant," Departmental Working Papers 2011-29, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    9. Silvia Fissi & Elena Gori & Alberto Romolini, 2013. "La governance dei comuni sui servizi pubblici locali," MANAGEMENT CONTROL, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2013(2), pages 87-110.
    10. Luca Gnan & Alessandro Hinna & Fabio Monteduro & Danila Scarozza, 2013. "Corporate governance and management practices: stakeholder involvement, quality and sustainability tools adoption," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 17(4), pages 907-937, November.

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