chapter  1
8 Pages



A reappraisal of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is warranted in the light of the recent renewed interest in state intervention, the limited current literature, and the signifi cant role played by SOEs in the 20th century. After a quarter century of almost general condemnation and rebuttal of the entire nationalization experience, second thoughts about governmental direct intervention in the economy are surfacing. Such a change was induced by the increasingly critical refl ection about the globalization paradigm, which has strongly infl uenced Western culture and society since the l980s. This in turn grew out of different converging factors: the vanishing of what had previously appeared to be the only socioeconomic model alternative to the capitalistic one, that is, the planned economy; the political overthrow of the states following that model, after the collapse of the Berlin wall; and the new industrial revolution stimulated by the new information and communication technologies. The drive to privatization was actually one of the pillars of the economic and ideological approach dominating the fi nal decades of the last century, an approach soon identifi ed with the prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization or, in other words, with the “Washington Consensus.”