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The Size and Composition of the SOE Sector in OECD Countries


  • Hans Christiansen



This working paper summarises the main findings of a data collection exercise documenting the size of the national state-owned enterprise (SOE) sectors in OECD countries (in terms of number, employment and economic value of enterprises), and provides a breakdown by main sectors and types of incorporation. The data is based on questionnaire responses from national governments, covering the years 2008 and 2009. Twenty-seven of the Organisation.s 34 member countries have contributed to date. Employment in SOEs across the OECD area exceeds 6 million people, and that the value of all SOEs combined is close to US$ 2 trillion. In addition to this, the State in many countries holds minority stakes in listed enterprises that are large enough to confer effective control. These enterprises employ a further 3 million people and are valued at close to US$ 1 trillion. Hence, while state ownership of enterprises has declined in recent decades, SOEs and similar entities continue to account for a significant part of the corporate economy in many countries. Following decades of privatisation, the remaining SOEs have a strong sectoral concentration. Around half (in value terms) of all SOEs in OECD countries are located in the network sectors, mostly transportation, power generation and other energy. A further fourth of total valuation is accounted for by financial institutions. In addition, among the partly state-owned listed companies there are many partly privatised telecommunications companies. In other words, not only do state-invested enterprises remain significant, they are also increasingly concentrated in a few ¡°strategic¡± sectors of great importance to the competitiveness of the rest of the business sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Hans Christiansen, 2011. "The Size and Composition of the SOE Sector in OECD Countries," OECD Corporate Governance Working Papers 5, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:dafaae:5-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5kg54cwps0s3-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Maciej Bałtowski & Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, 2014. "Modele funkcjonowania i nadzoru państwa nad przedsiębiorstwami państwowymi," Gospodarka Narodowa, Warsaw School of Economics, issue 4, pages 5-26.
    2. Stefano CLÒ & Matteo FERRARIS & Massimo FLORIO, 2015. "Public Enterprises in a Global Perspective in the Last Decade," Departmental Working Papers 2015-03, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    3. Oliver Falck & Siegfried Schönherr, 2016. "Eine Agenda für Wirtschaftsreformen in Kroatien: ein umfassendes wirtschaftspolitisches Reformpaket im Auftrag der kroatischen Staatsstiftung," ifo Forschungsberichte, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 70.
    4. Vasiliki Bazdekidu, 2015. "Corporate management in Greece in the context of debt crisis," Economic Thought journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 6, pages 91-105.
    5. Abramov, Alexander & Radygin, Alexander & Chernova, Maria, 2017. "State-owned enterprises in the Russian market: Ownership structure and their role in the economy," Russian Journal of Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-23.
    6. Luc Bernier & Massimo Florio & Johan Willner, 2016. "Rationales, performance and governance of public entreprises. Editorial introduction," ECONOMIA PUBBLICA, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(3), pages 5-10.
    7. Luc BERNIER & Patrice DUTIL & Taïeb HAFSI, 2018. "Policy Adrift: Canadian Crown Corporations In The 21st Century," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 89(3), pages 459-474, September.
    8. Chang, Winston W. & Chen, Fang-yueh, 2016. "Strategic managerial delegation and industrial policy competition in vertically-related markets," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 429-442.
    9. Voszka, Éva, 2015. "Államosítás, privatizáció és gazdaságpolitika - a főirány széttöredezése
      [Nationalization and privatization - in the shadow of changing paradigms of economic policy]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(7), pages 717-748.
    10. Philippe BANCE, 2015. "Public Enterprises And Production Of Global Public Goods: The Effectiveness Of Internalizing Public Missions In Relation To Climate Issues," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(4), pages 703-718, December.
    11. Roberto CARDINALE, 2017. "The Political-Economy Implications of the Transition from State-Owned to Mixed-Owned Enterprises: Evidence from the European Gas Sector," Departmental Working Papers 2017-10, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    12. Clò, Stefano & Fiorio, Carlo V. & Florio, Massimo, 2017. "The targets of state capitalism: evidence from M&A deals," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 61-74.
    13. Del Bo, Chiara D. & Ferraris, Matteo & Florio, Massimo, 2017. "Governments in the market for corporate control: Evidence from M&A deals involving state-owned enterprises," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 89-109.
    14. Balázs Égert & Antoine Goujard, 2014. "Strengthening Competition in Poland," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1125, OECD Publishing.
    15. Winston W. Chang & Han Eol Ryu, 2015. "Vertically Related Markets, Foreign Competition and Optimal Privatization Policy," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(2), pages 303-319, May.
    16. Carole RENTSCH & Matthias FINGER, 2015. "Yes, No, Maybe: The Ambiguous Relationships Between State-Owned Enterprises And The State," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(4), pages 617-640, December.
    17. Massimo Florio, 2014. "The return of public enterprise," Working Papers 201401, CSIL Centre for Industrial Studies.

    More about this item


    corporate governance; privatisation; state-owned enterprises;

    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance


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