Time to Rethink Privatization in Transition Economies?by John Nellis
Pub. Date: 06/22/1999
Publisher: World Bank Publications
This paper looks at what happens when the shift to private ownership gets far out in front of the
'It is now universally acknowledged that ownership matters; that private ownership in and of itself is a major determinant of good performance in firms ... Decent economic policy and well-functioning legal and administrative institutions ... matter greatly as well.'
This paper looks at what happens when the shift to private ownership gets far out in front of the effort to build the institutional underpinnings of a capitalist economy. The emphasis is on what went wrong and why and what, if anything, can be done to be correct it. Proposals include renationalization and/or postponement of further privatization, both to be accompanied by measures to strengthen the managerial capacities of the state. Neither approach seems likely to produce short-term improvements. The regrettable fact is that governments that botch privatization are equally likely to botch the management of state-owned firms. In a number of Central European transition countries, privatization is living up to expectations; and there is no need for such measures. For institutionally-weak countries, the less dramatic but reasonable short-term course of action is to push ahead more slowly with case- by-case and tender privatization in cooperation with the international assistance community in hopes of producing some success stories that will lead by example.
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