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Privatization and Efficiency: from Principals and Agents to Political Economy

  • Alberto Cavaliere

    (Università di Pavia)

We survey the theoretical literature on privatization and efficiency by tracing its evolution from the applications of agency theory to recent contributions in the field of political economy. The first ones extend the theory of regulation with incomplete information to address privatization issues, comparing State Owned Entreprises (SOEs) with private regulated firms. The benefits of privatization may either derive from the constraints it places on malevolent agents or to the impossibility of commitment by a benevolent government because of incomplete contracts. Contributions dealing with political economy issues separate privatization from restructuring decisions. They either explore bargaining between managers and politicians or analyze the impact of privatization shaped by political preferences on efficiency. The theoretical results regarding the relation between privatization and efficiency do not lead to any definitive conclusion. Privatization may increase productive efficiency when restructuring takes place whereas its effects on allocative efficiency still remain uncertain.

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Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2006.99.

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2006.99
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  1. Loeb, Martin & Magat, Wesley A, 1979. "A Decentralized Method for Utility Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 399-404, October.
  2. Bruno Biais & Enrico Perotti, 2002. "Machiavellian Privatization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 240-258, March.
  3. Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1996. "Industrial policy and politics," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 1-27.
  4. Shirley, Mary & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "Public versus private ownership : the current state of the debate," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2420, The World Bank.
  5. Schmidt, Klaus M., 1996. "The costs and benefits of privatization: An incomplete contracts approach," Munich Reprints in Economics 19773, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Bernardo Bortolotti & Marcella Fantini & Domenico Siniscalco, 2001. "Privatisation Around the World: New Evidence from Panel Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 600, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. John Vickers & George Yarrow, 1988. "Privatization: An Economic Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262720116, June.
  8. Robinson, James A. & Torvik, Ragnar, 2009. "A political economy theory of the soft budget constraint," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 786-798, October.
  9. Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "State Versus Private Ownership," NBER Working Papers 6665, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. János Kornai, 2014. "The soft budget constraint," Acta Oeconomica, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 64(supplemen), pages 25-79, November.
  11. Shapiro, C. & Willing, D.R., 1990. "Economic Rationales For The Scope Of Privatization," Papers 41, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  12. Ilya R. Segal, 1998. "Monopoly and Soft Budget Constraint," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(3), pages 596-609, Autumn.
  13. Jeffry M. Netter & William L. Megginson, 2001. "From State to Market: A Survey of Empirical Studies on Privatization," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 321-389, June.
  14. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  15. Klaus M. Schmidt, 1990. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization," Discussion Paper Serie A 287, University of Bonn, Germany.
  16. Pint, Ellen M., 1991. "Nationalization vs. regulation of monopolies : The effects of ownership on efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 131-164, March.
  17. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Using Cost Observation to Regulate Firms," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 614-41, June.
  18. Armstrong, Mark & Sappington, David E.M., 2007. "Recent Developments in the Theory of Regulation," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
  19. Bernardo Bortolotti & Paolo Pinotti, 2003. "The Political Economy of Privatization," Working Papers 2003.45, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  20. Bortolotti, Bernardo & Siniscalco, Domenico, 2004. "The Challenges of Privatization: An International Analysis," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199249343.
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