Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The UK record on practical privatisations tends to be mixed, veering towards negative. For private companies 'competition' doesn't mean service provision, it means profit.

There is very little evidence that private companies are inherently more efficient or creative than nationalised ones. In the UK BR had a good record of innovation. What it didn't have was cash. After rail privatisation cash support more than doubled, so - surprise! - the network could suddenly afford new trains. But it also wasted billions on consultancy, franchise bidding, interface management, and insane bureaucracy which was never necessary under a nationalised railway.

The issue is really management culture. Nationalised industries should not, ever, be run by civil servants, because civil servants typically know nothing about anything and usually have no managerial skills either. The best management comes from building up pride in public service and choosing individuals within that culture who have a record of making good things happen. Nationalised industries tend to develop that kind of culture in patches, but it's not common for nationalised industries to select top management for the right reasons.

In fact what people tend not to appreciate is that for both nationalised and privatised industries the management is usually the same. It's drawn from the same small pool of people. The biggest difference is whether management teams report to their government, or to financial analysts.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Oct 11th, 2008 at 08:18:57 AM EST
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