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Political control of government enterprises: Who controls whom?

  • Jørn Rattsø

    (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

  • Rune J. Sørensen

    (Norwegian Business School (BI))

Government enterprises are vulnerable to political intervention and influence of various interest groups. The theoretical literature emphasizes the role multiple and conflicting goals that distorts incentives and accountability. We offer empirical evidence of the importance of the political ownership with respect to internal and external interests in the enterprise. Our theoretical starting point is a veto player model of the relationship between two political parties and an interest group. The interest groups can exploit conflict between two political parties regarding the goals of the enterprise, and they can hold back the capacity to reform and restructure the enterprise. The empirical analyses are based on a survey questionnaire to board members and CEOs of the major government enterprises in Norway. The survey offers enterprise-specific measures of party agreement/conflict and interest group influence. The estimates suggest that political conflict increases interest group influence, both internal and external, and thereby holds back restructuring of the enterprise. Furthermore, when current revenues come from government grants, interest group influence tends to be extensive. In an extension of the analysis we show that media attention implies that board members are held more accountable.

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Paper provided by Condorcet Center for political Economy in its series Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS with number 2012-02-ccr.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:tut:cccrwp:2012-02-ccr
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  1. Bertero, Elisabetta & Rondi, Laura, 2000. "Financial pressure and the behaviour of public enterprises under soft and hard budget constraints: evidence from Italian panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 73-98, January.
  2. Mara Faccio, 2006. "Politically Connected Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 369-386, March.
  3. Agrawal, Anup & Knoeber, Charles R, 2001. "Do Some Outside Directors Play a Political Role?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 179-98, April.
  4. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  5. Thomas Romer & Howard Rosenthal, 1978. "Political resource allocation, controlled agendas, and the status quo," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 27-43, December.
  6. 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.
  7. McCubbins, Mathew D & Noll, Roger G & Weingast, Barry R, 1987. "Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 243-77, Fall.
  8. Morris Fiorina, 1982. "Legislative choice of regulatory forms: Legal process or administrative process?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 33-66, January.
  9. John Vickers & George Yarrow, 1991. "Economic Perspectives on Privatization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 111-132, Spring.
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