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Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820-1990


  • Foreman-Peck, James

    (St Antony's College, Oxford)

  • Millward, Robert

    (University of Manchester)


Britain led the way for much of the world with industrial privatization during the 1980s. Yet the historical origins of the process that was being reversed have rarely been examined. This is a study of public and private ownership in industries such as railways, gas, water, electricity, and telecommunications. Industries such as these rely upon a substanial physical distribution network that `channels' their service from source to destination. They thus raise distinctive problems for government policy, as their requirement for some sort of unified system is incompatible with the coexistence of a number of competing service suppliers. Yet competition has been the traditional guarantee of `fair' and minimum prices in British industrial policy. This tension between experience and ideology provoked a variety of government policies over the last two centuries. Robert Millward and James Foreman-Peck provide a coherent and thorough economic history of the network industries, which continue to play an important role in the British economy. They trace the development of various institutional arrangements from the early nineteenth century until the end of the 1980s, and provide quantitative estimates of their performance. Their book offers a valuable historical approach to the contentious issue of privatization.

Suggested Citation

  • Foreman-Peck, James & Millward, Robert, 1994. "Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820-1990," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198203599.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780198203599

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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Mühlenkamp, Holger, 2013. "From state to market revisited: more empirical evidence on the efficiency of public (and privately-owned) enterprises," MPRA Paper 47570, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Malcolm Abbott, 2013. "The Motivation and Effectiveness of Gas Industry Economic Regulation in New South Wales, 1912–39," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 53(2), pages 167-186, July.
    3. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C. & Mulatu, Abay, 2007. "Total factor productivity growth on Britain's railways, 1852-1912: A reappraisal of the evidence," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 608-634, October.
    4. James Foreman-Peck & Leslie Hannah, 2012. "Some Consequences of the Early Twentieth Century Divorce of Ownership from Control," Working Papers 0023, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    5. Holger MAHLENKAMP, 2015. "From State To Market Revisited: A Reassessment Of The Empirical Evidence On The Efficiency Of Public (And Privately-Owned) Enterprises," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(4), pages 535-557, December.
    6. Arapostathis, Stathis & Carlsson-Hyslop, Anna & Pearson, Peter J G & Thornton, Judith & Gradillas, Maria & Laczay, Scott & Wallis, Suzanne, 2013. "Governing transitions: Cases and insights from two periods in the history of the UK gas industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 25-44.
    7. Crafts, Nicholas & Leunig, Tim & Mulatu, Abay, 2007. "Were British railway companies well-managed in the early twentieth century?," Economic History Working Papers 22549, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    8. Matthias Finger & Rolf W. Künneke (ed.), 2011. "International Handbook of Network Industries," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12961, April.
    9. Foreman-Peck, James & Hannah, Leslie, 2011. "Extreme Divorce: the Managerial Revolution in UK Companies before 1914," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2011/21, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
    10. Catarina Figueira & David Parker, 2011. "Infrastructure Liberalization: Challenges to the New Economic Paradigm in the Context of Developing Countries," Chapters,in: International Handbook of Network Industries, chapter 27 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Aad Correljé & Thorsten Schuetze, 2012. "Decentral Water Supply and Sanitation," Chapters,in: Inverse Infrastructures, chapter 9 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Robert MILLWARD, 2010. "Public enterprise in the modern western world: an historical analysis," Departmental Working Papers 2010-26, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    13. Glen O'Hara, 2009. "'What the electorate can be expected to swallow': Nationalisation, transnationalism and the shifting boundaries of the state in post-war Britain," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(4), pages 501-528.
    14. Nicholas Crafts & Timothy Leunig & Abay Mulatu, 2008. "Were British railway companies well managed in the early twentieth century? -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(4), pages 842-866, November.
    15. Robert Millward, 2010. "The family silver, business efficiency and the City, 1970-1987," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 52(1), pages 169-185.
    16. repec:bla:econpa:v:36:y:2017:i:3:p:250-265 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Hugh Goldsmith, 2014. "The Long-Run Evolution of Infrastructure Services," CESifo Working Paper Series 5073, CESifo Group Munich.

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