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The Political Economy of Privatization in Rich Democracies$
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Herbert Obinger, Carina Schmitt, and Stefan Traub

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669684.001.0001

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The Emergence of Public Enterprises in Historical Perspective

The Emergence of Public Enterprises in Historical Perspective

(p.6) 2 The Emergence of Public Enterprises in Historical Perspective
The Political Economy of Privatization in Rich Democracies

Herbert Obinger

Carina Schmitt

Stefan Traub

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a brief historical overview of the emergence of public enterprises and the underlying driving forces in the period before 1980. Arguably, state-owned enterprises are as old as the state itself. The formation of a state-owned enterprise sector occurred in several waves and the reasons for setting up state-owned enterprises are as various as the emerging patterns of public entrepreneurship in the Western world. An historical perspective is important for understanding the rationale motivating the privatizations that occurred from the 1980s onwards and their associated modes of governance. The chapter identifies and discusses five historical driving forces of state ownership, namely fiscal monopolies, economic and political modernization, military needs, Marxian ideology, and natural monopolies.

Keywords:   fiscal monopoly, historical perspective, natural monopoly, Marx, modernization, state-owned enterprises, war preparation

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