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The comparative performance of public and private enterprise

  • Richard Pryke
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    The nationalised industries' performance was unsatisfactory during the 1970s. However the same can be said of much of the private sector. Poor management and low productivity are by no means confined to public enterprise and financial assistance, which has had such an adverse effect on the efficiency of the nationalised concerns, might-in the absence of public ownership-have been afforded to private firms in the way that it has abroad. Moreover, for many of the industries the alternative to state ownership is not competition under private ownership but private monopoly operating under public regulation. Hence many of the weaknesses which appear to spring from public ownership could be the result of monopoly. It is therefore a matter of judgement as to whether the ownership of the nationalised industries by the state helps to explain why they have, in general, performed so badly. In my latest book The Nationalised Industries: Policies and Performance since 1968 I concluded that public ownership has had a deleterious effect but this was at best no more than an informed opinion (and in an earlier survey of the industries, which covered the period up to 1968, I reached a different verdict).

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    Article provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its journal Fiscal Studies.

    Volume (Year): 3 (1982)
    Issue (Month): 2 (July)
    Pages: 68-81

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    Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:3:y:1982:i:2:p:68-81
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