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

  • Mühlenkamp, Holger
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    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.

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    File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/47570/1/MPRA_paper_47570.pdf
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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 47570.

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    Date of creation: 07 Jun 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47570
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    1. 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.
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    3. David Parker & Colin Kirkpatrick, 2005. "Privatisation in Developing Countries: A Review of the Evidence and the Policy Lessons," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(4), pages 513-541.
    4. 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.
    5. Foreman-Peck, James & Millward, Robert, 1994. "Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820-1990," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198203599, March.
    6. Vining, Aidan R & Boardman, Anthony E, 1992. " Ownership versus Competition: Efficiency in Public Enterprise," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 205-39, March.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Carvalho, Pedro & Marques, Rui Cunha & Berg, Sanford, 2011. "A meta-regression analysis of benchmarking studies on water utilities market structure," MPRA Paper 32894, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Hart, Oliver & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1127-61, November.
    13. 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.
    14. Schmidt, Klaus M., 1996. "Incomplete contracts and privatization," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 569-579, April.
    15. Willner, Johan, 2001. "Ownership, efficiency, and political interference," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 723-748, November.
    16. 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.
    17. John Vickers & George Yarrow, 1988. "Privatization: An Economic Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262720116, June.
    18. Estrin, Saul & Hanousek, Jan & Kocenda, Evzen & Svejnar, Jan, 2009. "Effects of privatization and ownership in transition economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4811, The World Bank.
    19. Schmidt, Klaus M, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization: An Incomplete Contracts Approach," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 1-24, April.
    20. Alberto Cavaliere, 2006. "Privatization and Efficiency: from Principals and Agents to Political Economy," Working Papers 2006.99, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    21. 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.
    22. De Fraja, Giovanni, 1993. "Productive efficiency in public and private firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 15-30, January.
    23. 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.
    24. Simeon Djankov & Peter Murrell, 2002. "Enterprise Restructuring in Transition: A Quantitative Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(3), pages 739-792, September.
    25. 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.
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