PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to theoretically investigate the potential welfare effects of state-owned enterprises’ (SOEs) international operations.Design/methodology/approachThe paper is conceptual, applying standard economics state ownership theory based on agency theory and incomplete contracts theory to different forms of SOE cross-border operations.FindingsWhen private firms are risk averse or financially constrained, or when writing complete contracts and making credible commitments are not possible, state ownership can achieve objectives such as international operations supporting domestic industrial policy, addressing social objectives in another government’s territory and addressing transnational market failures. Welfare effects may, however, also depend on home-host country relationships.Originality/valueThis is the first application of standard economics state ownership theory to state-owned multinationals. The analysis shows that key conclusions from the state ownership literature in a domestic setting can be extended to international operations, and highlights new theoretical issues arising from SOEs going beyond their home jurisdiction to that of another government.
International Journal of Public Sector Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 5, 2018
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