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Threatening to Increase Productivity: Evidence from Brazil's Oil Industry


  • Bridgman, Benjamin
  • Gomes, Victor
  • Teixeira, Arilton


Summary The wave of privatization in the 1980s and 1990s increased productivity of many previously state owned enterprises (SOEs). However, governments often do not have sufficient support to privatize SOEs. We provide evidence that threatening privatization and market competition (entry of new firms) can increase the productivity of SOEs, even though privatization and entry of new firms does not occur. We study productivity at Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras. Petrobras's total factor productivity increased sharply after it lost its legal monopoly, doubling in 6Â years. These large gains occurred despite the fact that Petrobras faced no immediate de facto competition. The threat of competition and privatization was sufficient to generate large productivity gains. These findings suggest that changing the competitive environment can be a powerful force for improving productivity at state-owned firms.

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  • Bridgman, Benjamin & Gomes, Victor & Teixeira, Arilton, 2011. "Threatening to Increase Productivity: Evidence from Brazil's Oil Industry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1372-1385, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:39:y:2011:i:8:p:1372-1385

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pollitt, Michael G., 2012. "The role of policy in energy transitions: Lessons from the energy liberalisation era," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 128-137.
    2. Bridgman, Benjamin, 2015. "Competition, work rules and productivity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 136-149.
    3. Gaffney, F. & Deane, J.P. & Gallachóir, B.P.Ó, 2017. "A 100 year review of electricity policy in Ireland (1916–2015)," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 67-79.
    4. Liu, Yi & Li, Xue & Lahiri, Sajal, 2016. "Determinants of privatization in China: The role of the presence of foreign firms," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 196-221.
    5. Bassanini, Andrea, 2015. "A Bitter Medicine? Short-term Employment Impact of Deregulation in Network Industries," IZA Discussion Papers 9187, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Dai, Xiaoyong & Cheng, Liwei, 2016. "Market distortions and aggregate productivity: Evidence from Chinese energy enterprises," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 304-313.
    7. Sanghamitra Das & Kala Krishna & Sergey Lychagin & Rohini Somanathan, 2013. "Back on the Rails: Competition and Productivity in State-Owned Industry," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 136-162, January.
    8. Gorecki, Paul K., 2013. "Ensuring compatibility of the all-island electricity system with the target model: Fitting a square peg into a round hole?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 677-688.
    9. Opp, Marcus M., 2012. "Expropriation risk and technology," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 113-129.
    10. John E. Tilton, 2013. "Cyclical and Secular Determinants of Productivity in the Copper, Aluminum, Iron Ore, and Coal Industries," Working Papers 2013-11, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.


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