The race for international markets: Were privatized telecommunications incumbents more successful than their public counterparts?

Selling off formerly state-owned telecommunications incumbents played a major role in governments’ privatization programmes from the 1980s. One major consequence was that, from the late 1990s, a number of incumbents emerged as the world’s largest Multinational Corporations (MNCs). Despite the importance of this transformation, the determinants of telecommunications internationalization have not been fully analysed. We contribute to the emerging literature on this topic by testing the importance of ownership on the extent of telecommunications internationalization through an analysis of the uneven path to privatization and internationalization of the 22 major incumbents in the OECD. Our results demonstrate that privatization was not a significant factor when explaining internationalization patterns. Using cluster analysis, we show how telecommunications incumbents characterized by diverse ownership arrangements (public, private and mixed) were able to transform themselves into world-class operators.


International Review of Applied Economics 27(2)




Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales
University of Cantabria
39005 Cantabria



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