The crisis as a wake-up call: do banks tighten screening and monitoring during a financial crisis?
Recent developments and theoretical work on the transition economies has emphasised the importance of internal bargaining and incentives. This paper constitutes the first attempt to systematise the large and growing body of case studies of enterprise restructuring in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Russia and the Czech Republic. We begin from a framework in which the incentives and constraints on managers are crucial for the success of transforming enterprises into value maximising firms. The forms of, and the constraints on, active behaviour are examined for each enterprise across the dimensions of internal organisation, product and labour markets and investment. There is a huge variety in the quality of the evidence and in the experiences documented. Although we find widespread evidence of enterprise managers reacting to the post-reform environment, examples of deep restructuring are rare. Managers are hamstrung by weak incentives and increasing employee opposition, as well as by the uneven development of social and market infrastructure external to the enterprise. Low incentives arise from the absence of a managerial labour market, monopoly power and the large component of idiosyncratic knowledge possessed by incumbents. Opposition is based on the high costs of job loss. A characteristic feature of the transition economies is the ability of employees to veto restructuring and the opposition of labour appears likely to increase as unemployment rates and durations grow. Cases are described where the passage of restructuring measures has been facilitated by the willingness of the state to provide compensation to the ‘losers’. The examination of pre-privatisation behaviour suggests that the pace and depth of restructuring would increase after privatisation only when privatisation clearly transforms the incentives and constraints facing managers. The limited evidence on post- privatisation restructuring surveyed here suggests that foreign ownership of a former state-owned enterprise is the exception in which privatisation produces a marked change in behaviour. The role of product market power runs through the survey. Some enterprises use profits as a shield to avoid painful change, others have actively sought to build dominant positions. Aggregate data is presented which raises the possibility that the pattern of restructuring is being distorted by the uneven distribution of monopoly power across sectors. In our conclusions, we suggest ways in which future enterprise-level research could be improved to shed more light on the pattern of restructuring and to facilitate safer policy advice. From a policy perspective, we stress the complementarity between different reforms. The focus on the incentives and constraints facing enterprise managers highlights the limitations to a strategy which relies on privatisation to raise efficiency. The state must play a role in facilitating labour shedding and internal reorganisation of enterprises through providing finance for compensation, promoting the provision of social services outside the structure of enterprises and fostering the creation of new jobs. The hardening ahs promoted adjustment but over-tight budgetary policies may offset this, slowing the arte of new job creation ad heightening uncertainty about the prospects of enterprises under restructuring.
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