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Ownership Versus Environment: Disentangling the Sources of Public-Sector Inefficiency

Ann P. Bartel and Ann Harrison ()
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Ann P. Bartel: Columbia Business School and NBER

The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2005, vol. 87, issue 1, 135-147

Abstract: An unanswered question in the debate on public-sector inefficiency is whether reforms other than government divestiture can effectively substitute for privatization. Using a 1981-1995 panel data set of all public and private manufacturing establishments in Indonesia, we analyze whether public-sector inefficiency is primarily due to agency-type problems or to the environment in which public-sector enterprises (PSEs) operate, as measured by the soft budget constraint and the degree of internal and external competition. The results, obtained from fixed-effects specifications, provide support for both models. Ownership matters because, for a given level of government financing or competition, PSEs perform worse than their private-sector counterparts. The environment matters because only PSEs which received government financing or those shielded from import competition or foreign ownership performed worse than private enterprises. The results suggest that the efficiency of PSEs can be increased through privatization, through manipulation of the environment, or through a combination of both approaches. © 2005 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Date: 2005
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