Policy Sciences

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 159–183 | Cite as

Reframing privatisation: Deconstructing the myth of efficiency

  • Steve R. Letza
  • Clive Smallman
  • Xiuping Sun


In the context of ongoing scandals about public versus private ownership, we review the rise and fall of British nationalised industries, and the subsequent rise of privatisation based on perception of market-based efficiency as a means of improving public service. We evaluate the theoretical and empirical arguments around privatisation and find that the argument of privatisation as a vehicle for efficiency gains is a myth. Instead, we suggest that efficiency is not solely a matter of ownership, but requires a complex interplay of social and commercial variables to make it possible. We call for a more inventive and flexible approach in the search for efficiency in the public sector.


Public Sector Economic Policy Public Service Complex Interplay Efficiency Gain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steve R. Letza
    • 1
  • Clive Smallman
    • 2
  • Xiuping Sun
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Director Education, Leeds Business SchoolLeeds Metropolitan University, Bronte Hall, Beckett ParkLeedsUK
  2. 2.Commerce DivisionLincoln UniversityCanterburyNew Zealand
  3. 3.Lecturer in Business Strategy, Leeds Business SchoolLeeds Metropolitan University, Bronte Hall, Beckett ParkLeedsUK

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