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Management article
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Reference no. 93308
Authors: Kevin McDonald
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 1993

Abstract

In the West, we believe that privatizing an Eastern European enterprise will invariably improve governance, management, and performance. But the positive effects of privatization are far from automatic. In fact, most newly privatized companies need dominant, experienced Western shareholders to compensate for the weaknesses of communist-educated managers. Whereas privatization with a strong shareholder can work miracles, privatizations without one rarely do well for long. Because owners must educate, motivate, or replace incumbent managers, ownership is critical. Privatization is a means to an end, not always an end in itself.

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Abstract

In the West, we believe that privatizing an Eastern European enterprise will invariably improve governance, management, and performance. But the positive effects of privatization are far from automatic. In fact, most newly privatized companies need dominant, experienced Western shareholders to compensate for the weaknesses of communist-educated managers. Whereas privatization with a strong shareholder can work miracles, privatizations without one rarely do well for long. Because owners must educate, motivate, or replace incumbent managers, ownership is critical. Privatization is a means to an end, not always an end in itself.

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