How Governments Privatize

cover art
320 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878408795 ()

320 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781589010086 (1589010086)

April 2002
LC: 2001040798
Sales Rights: World

American Governance and Public Policy series


Table of Contents

How Governments Privatize
The Politics of Divestment in the United States and Germany
Mark Cassell

2003 Charles H. Levine Memorial Book Prize for the Best Book in Public Policy and Administration

Governments throughout the world confront enormous challenges when divesting. Whether it is poor-performing bank loans in Japan and Korea, military bases in the United States, or real estate in eastern Europe, the challenge of public divestment is more than just a question of how to map a path to economic efficiency. Conventional wisdom in public management and privatization literature says that the execution of such enormous tasks as divestment is typically done poorly, and that the government strategy is likely to be inefficient.

Mark Cassell argues that privatization must be understood as a political and administrative puzzle rather than simply an exercise in economic efficiency. This study of two successful divestment agencies — the U.S. Resolution Trust Corporation and the German Treuhandanstalt — presents a complex understanding of the two agencies' performance in privatizing hundreds of billions of dollars of assets following two very different crises, the savings and loan debacle in the United States and unification in Germany. In the U.S., the worst economic problem since the Great Depression forced the government to recreate and reshape private property on an immense scale. In Germany, melding East and West Germany involved converting an entire national economy that employed more than four million people. In each case, unassuming public agencies handled two of the largest public sales of assets in this century.

Cassell identifies the importance and effects of managerial structures and of national institutions — legislatures and executives — on the outcomes of the reform efforts.

This book will be of interest to those interested in alternatives to traditional public-sector structures, electoral connections to bureaucracies, comparative political economy, and the historic events of the aftermath of the savings and loan crisis and German unification. It is crucial reading for policy and public administration practitioners and scholars alike.

Mark Cassell is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Kent State University.
Gerard W. Boychuk, Karen Mossberger, and Mark C. Rom, Series Editors
"Cassell provides us with a rigorously detailed organizational study. . . . In doing this he draws heavily on the public management literature, but Cassell seeks to extend this literature to an analysis of public/private hybrid agencies that, by some accounts, are becoming more common. Cassell's multilayered analysis is sophisticated and carefully thought out. He presents and contextualizes in clear form the myriad forces that undoubtedly shape the behavior of public agencies."—Governance

"Offers thick case study in the sense that good soup is thick—full of juicy morsels. . . . The description of the two agencies is riveting in the detail. . . . what makes the book valuable is the care and detail with which the argument is documented and the vivid way the story is told. . . . a rare comparative study of agency politics."—Perspectives on Politics

"The conventional wisdom is that government programs often don't work and that government organizations last forever. In a powerful analysis, Cassell shows how two agencies in the U.S. and Germany made programs work—and how they then put themselves out of business. The result is an important contribution to our understanding of political economy, public policy, and public management."—Donald F. Kettl, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"A thorough and outstandingly knowledgeable study. . . . [An account] of impressive depth and accuracy on institutional building and its political embeddedness in the realm of large-scale privatization."—Wolfgang Seibel, University of Konstanz

Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables
List of Abbreviations
Preface and Acknowledgements

1. Introduction: How the Resolution Trust Corporation and the Treuhandansalt Managed the Sales of the Century

2. Bureaucratic Outputs

3. Personnel, Culture, and Organizational Structure: The Impact of Administrative Characteristics on the Performance of the RTC and THA

4. Structured Choices and Consequences

5. The Impact of Task Environment on Performance

6. The Impact of National Institutional Environments

7. Stragetic Bureaucracies and Their Consequences