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The past decade has witnessed a worldwide and more-or-less irreversible shift away from state ownership. This "megatrend" is expected to last well into the next millennium. Given policymakers' previous strong inclination towards nationalization and state ownership, one must ask: Why change now?
Markets, States, and Public Policy concentrates on the experience of Britain and France, two pioneers of privatization, and draws specifically on detailed case studies of three sectors: oil, telecommunications, and railroads. The book shows that privatization is brought about by the interplay of three factors at critical junctures of time: available policy alternatives, the ideological complexion and strategy of the governing parties, and widening government budget deficits. Thus privatization is a politically forged decision to forego direct control over markets, in favor of indirect control.
Zahariadis applies the multiple streams approach, extending the theory in two important ways: first, by giving it an explicitly comparative focus and second, by broadening its explanatory reach to cover policy adoption in addition to agenda setting. In doing this, the author strikes a unique balance between theoretical analysis and empirical rigor. Zahariadis's novel way of comparatively examining the dynamics of policy choice and his use of literature that cuts across the fields of comparative politics, public policy and political economy will attract the interest of students of political science, public administration, economics, and sociology.