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Transformation And Future of Public Enterprises In Continental Western Europe

Author: JAN-ERIK LANE
Published in PFM, Vol. 2 No. 1

This article recognizes that in Continental Western Europe
public enterprises have recently gone through a quick revolution which
has made them regional and even global players, particularly in
infrastructure development and management. This is the outcome of
institutional changes both within the enterprises and outside in the
European Union framework of laws and regulations, on the one hand,
and the rapid integration of the economies of the EU states, on the
other. The response of public enterprises---the new public firms---to
their incorporation as joint-stock companies and to deregulation has
been to engage in oligopoly and related strategies in order to acquire
market power and to stabilize their business environments. The
outcome of these strategies is that the public firms have strengthened
their market positions, increasing their discretion in relation to
government and their capacity to cooperate in share alliances with
private sector players across national borders. These changes have
occurred with such a pace that they call for debate about the
privatization of some of these giant firms. This debate must take
serious account of the public mission of such firms.

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