Paola Garrone, Luca Grilli, Xavier Rousseau

Municipal Enterprises: Political Interference or Management Discretion?

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Partial Privatisation, Inter-municipal Initiatives, Municipal Utilities, Management Discretion, Italy, L510; L970; L320

The attention of scholars and policy makers is shifting from full privatisation to alternative measures as a means to improve the efficiency of public services. This paper focuses on three restructuring measures adopted by local governments: partial privatisation (without transfer of control rights), inter-municipal joint ventures, and the presence of outside directors on the Board. Divergent hypotheses on these measures have emerged according to whether public choice or agency theory has been used. An empirical analysis investigates the effects of restructuring processes on a sample of Italian municipal utilities. Partial privatisation has been shown to play a significant and positive role, while Board independence from management has a less significant influence. Multi-government utilities have been found to suffer from severe coordination costs, which are not outweighed by scale benefits. Our findings reveal that management discretion is a significant source of inefficiency in municipal enterprises.

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