IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

From state to market revisited: more empirical evidence on the efficiency of public (and privately-owned) enterprises

  • Mühlenkamp, Holger
Registered author(s):

    For several decades public enterprises have been criticised for their poor economic performance. Many economists take it as “conventional wisdom” that publicly owned enterprises are inefficient by their very nature. This seemed to be proved by what is probably the most cited survey worldwide, that was written by Megginson and Netter (2001). They claim: “Research now supports the proposition that privately owned firms are more efficient and more profitable than otherwise-comparable state-owned firms” (p. 380). The objective of this paper is to question the proposition that public enterprises are necessarily less efficient as their private counterparts. In doing so, we argue that profits are not a reasonable performance measure for public enterprises. However, our main focus is to present a much more comprehensive review of the empirical evidence than was provided by Megginson and Netter. The evidence indicates that these authors’ conclusions were biased in favour of privatization despite the evidence indicating that the true picture is much more differentiated.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 47570.

    in new window

    Date of creation: 07 Jun 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47570
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Schackstr. 4, D-80539 Munich, Germany
    Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2219
    Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-3900
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Djankov, Simeon & Murrell, Peter, 2002. "Enterprise Restructuring in Transition: A Quantitative Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 3319, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Germ� Bel & Xavier Fageda & Mildred E. Warner, 2010. "Is private production of public services cheaper than public production? A meta-regression analysis of solid waste and water services," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 553-577.
    3. Saul Estrin & Jan Hanousek & Evzen Kocenda & Jan Svejnar, 2009. "The Effects of Privatization and Ownership in Transition Economies," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 699-728, September.
    4. Alberto Cavaliere, 2006. "Privatization and Efficiency: from Principals and Agents to Political Economy," Working Papers 2006.99, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    5. repec:oup:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:4:p:1127-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Germa Bel & Anton Costas, 2006. "Do Public Sector Reforms Get Rusty? Local Privatization in Spain," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24.
    7. Foreman-Peck, James & Millward, Robert, 1994. "Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820-1990," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198203599, July.
    8. Schmidt, Klaus M., 1996. "Incomplete contracts and privatization," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 569-579, April.
    9. William L. Megginson & Natalie L. Sutter, 2006. "Privatisation in Developing Countries," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(4), pages 234-265, 07.
    10. Willner, Johan, 2001. "Ownership, efficiency, and political interference," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 723-748, November.
    11. 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.
    12. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1991. "Privatization and Incentives," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 84-105, Special I.
    13. Frey, Bruno S., 1997. "On the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic work motivation1," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 427-439, July.
    14. Carvalho, Pedro & Marques, Rui Cunha & Berg, Sanford, 2012. "A meta-regression analysis of benchmarking studies on water utilities market structure," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 40-49.
    15. Boardman, Anthony E & Vining, Aidan R, 1989. "Ownership and Performance in Competitive Environments: A Comparison of the Performance of Private, Mixed, and State-Owned Enterprises," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 1-33, April.
    16. De Fraja, Giovanni, 1993. "Productive efficiency in public and private firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 15-30, January.
    17. John Vickers & George Yarrow, 1988. "Privatization: An Economic Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262720116, June.
    18. Parker, David & Kirkpatrick, Colin, 2003. "Privatisation in Developing Countries: A Review of the Evidence and the Policy Lessons," Centre on Regulation and Competition (CRC) Working papers 30623, University of Manchester, Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM).
    19. Lidia Ceriani & Massimo Florio, 2011. "Consumer surplus and the reform of network industries: a primer," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 102(2), pages 111-122, March.
    20. Vining, Aidan R & Boardman, Anthony E, 1992. " Ownership versus Competition: Efficiency in Public Enterprise," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 205-39, March.
    21. Foreman-Peck, James & Waterson, Michael, 1985. "The Comparative Efficiency of Public and Private Enterprise in Britain: Electricity Generation between the World Wars," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(380a), pages 83-95, Supplemen.
    22. Villalonga, Belen, 2000. "Privatization and efficiency: differentiating ownership effects from political, organizational, and dynamic effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 43-74, May.
    23. 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.
    24. Boubakri, Narjess & Cosset, Jean-Claude & Guedhami, Omrane, 2005. "Liberalization, corporate governance and the performance of privatized firms in developing countries," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 11(5), pages 767-790, October.
    25. Massimo Florio, 2006. "The Great Divestiture: Evaluating the Welfare Impact of the British Privatizations, 1979-1997," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262562227, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47570. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.