The chapters in this volume contain partial answers to a question that governments of developing countries addressed with renewed interest in the 1980s: what can be done to improve the performance of state-owned enterprises that play a prominent role in the economy and absorb substantial public resources? The question is not new, but in the last decade governments came up with more creative answers than perhaps at any time before. This book offers concepts and case studies involving two types of remedies that proved particularly important in developing countries in the 1980s. The first remedy assumed that the performance of state-owned enterprises could not be improved without the privatization of ownership, while the second sought ways to improve government oversight of state enterprises on the assumption that privatization was either infeasible of undesirable.
A central tenet of this volume is that these two remedies are complementary, not competing or mutually exclusive options. While a great deal has been written on both these approaches, few studies evaluate the results of the measures undertaken. In contrast, several chapters in this volume analyze the consequences of the reforms they describe. Another common feature is the fact that most of the studies were either sponsored by the World Bank or authored by members of its staff.
Ravi Ramamurti is Joseph G. Riesman research professor (1989-1991) and associate professor of business administration at Northeastern University, Boston. He was a visiting professor in business, government and competition at Harvard Business School during 1986-1988. He has written extensively on state-owned enterprises and has served as a consultant on the subject to international agencies and the governments of developing countries.
Raymond Vernon is Clarence Dillon professor of international relations emeritus at the center for Business and Government, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University He has written several articles on the state-owned enterprises and the multinational corporation and has been a consultant to numerous public and private organizations. His books include “Storm Over the Multinationals”, “State-Owned Enterprise in the Western Economies” (edited with Yair Aharoni); and $The Promise of Privatization” (editor).