Reframing privatisation: Deconstructing the myth of efficiency
In the context of ongoing scandals about public versus private ownership, we review the rise and fall of British nationalised industries, and the subsequent rise of privatisation based on perception of market-based efficiency as a means of improving public service. We evaluate the theoretical and empirical arguments around privatisation and find that the argument of privatisation as a vehicle for efficiency gains is a myth. Instead, we suggest that efficiency is not solely a matter of ownership, but requires a complex interplay of social and commercial variables to make it possible. We call for a more inventive and flexible approach in the search for efficiency in the public sector.
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