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Related to privatized: denationalization, privatising


The transfer of government-owned or government-run companies to the private sector, usually by selling them.


The conversion of a public enterprise to a private enterprise. For example, a government-owned railroad or airline may undergo privatization if ownership shares of the enterprise are sold to individual and institutional investors.


Privatization is the conversion of a government-run enterprise to one that is privately owned and operated. The conversion is made by selling shares to individual or institutional investors.

The theory behind privatization is that privately run enterprises, such as utility companies, airlines, and telecommunications systems, are more efficient and provide better service than government-run companies.

But in many cases, privatization is a way for the government to raise cash and to reduce its role as service provider.




the denationalization of an industry, transferring it from public to private ownership. The extent of state ownership of industry depends very much on political ideology, with CENTRALLY PLANNED ECONOMY proponents seeking more NATIONALIZATION, and PRIVATE-ENTERPRISE ECONOMY advocates favouring little or no nationalization. Thus, in the UK, the wide-ranging programme of privatization embarked upon by the Conservative government in the 1980s can be interpreted partly as a political preference for the private-enterprise system.

Advocates of privatization, however, also espouse the economic virtues of free enterprise over state control. Specifically they argue that firms that are left to fend for themselves in a competitive market environment are likely to allocate resources more efficiently and to meet changing consumers’ demands more effectively than a bureaucratic state monopolist (see PRICE SYSTEM).

In this regard, it is pertinent to distinguish between industries that can be considered NATURAL MONOPOLIES and those where, in theory, a more fragmented industrial structure could be recreated. In the former category come those industries, such as gas and electricity distribution, railway and telephone services, where ECONOMIES OF SCALE are so great that only a monopoly supplier is in a position to fully maximize supply efficiency. There could be a serious loss of efficiency through unnecessary duplication of resources if these activities were to be fragmented. The alternative of a private-enterprise MONOPOLY is not appealing either, critics argue, because of the dangers of monopolistic abuse.

In the latter category come industries, such as iron and steel, gas and electricity generation, shipbuilding and car manufacture, where, because production usually takes place on a multiplant basis, the scope exists for placing each plant under a different ownership interest, thereby creating a more competitive supply situation. However, because these activities are capital-intensive and, like natural monopolies, are characterized by significant economies of scale, the most that can be hoped for is the creation of a high seller concentration OLIGOPOLY. By contrast, the removal from the public sector of those individual firms (as distinct from whole industries) that were nationalized because they were making losses and needing reorganizing (for example, Ferranti, Inter nation-al Computers, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, British Leyland, British Shipbuilders) can be more easily justified.

The main problem with privatization is the extent to which competition can in fact be introduced into sectors hitherto confined to state monopolies, either by breaking up an existing state corporation into a number of separate private companies (as for electricity) or by encouraging new entry (as in gas and telecommunications). Because of this, it has been necessary in most cases to establish a regulatory authority (Ofgas and Oftel respectively for gas and telecommunications), backed up by the possibility of a reference to the COMPETITION COMMISSION, to control the industry. See DEREGULATION, INDUSTRIAL POLICY.

References in periodicals archive ?
Iranian Energy Minister Majid Namjou said last November that according to the Constitution, the generation and distribution sectors of the power industry should be privatized and the transmission sector should remain state-owned.
The Army decided to privatize its lodging facilities to obtain private sector financing to address the poor condition of its facilities and the high estimated costs to repair them, whereas the other military services decided not to privatize since the services' lodging expenses could increase due to higher room rates if privatized and officials viewed their lodging facilities as in generally good condition.
Bush is preparing to launch a multimillion-dollar TV ad blitz to convince Americans that our grandkids will be left out in the cold if Social Security is not privatized.
trade representative have been asking Japan to place the new, privatized Kampo operation under the same regulations as those facing its private-sector competitors.
Ever since it was privatized in 1985, NTT has tended to use the fiction of "poor performance" to block the introduction of unfavorable competition rules--and to rollback competition rules already in place.
The administration has privatized the 1-800 help line, and the new privatized workers don't really know immigration law.
in January 1987, which has since grown to become the city's leading provider of safe, affordable, privatized student housing.
Iquique was privatized in 1999 and Arica was slated for sate on the same day at the same auction, although technical issues stemming from Bolivia's ties with the port kept investors away, says Patricio Campana, manager of the Arica port authority.
For more than a decade, other provincial governments have been looking for ways to unload their social responsibilities onto municipalities, non-profit agencies and privatized programs, all of them ill-equipped to handle the burden.
Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Nobuteru Ishihara said Monday the government will own a minimum one-third of shares in the entities to be set up after four public highway corporations are privatized in fiscal 2005.
Proponents of this perspective offer a way to view old-age policy that often leads to proposals to cut back on entitlement programs for the elderly and to place more emphasis on privatized alternatives.