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Privatization refers to the transfer of ownership or operation of assets, enterprises, or services from the public sector (government) to the private sector (businesses or individuals). It often involves selling state-owned entities to private investors. This move is commonly undertaken to increase efficiency, improve service quality, and reduce costs.


The phonetic spelling of “Privatization” is /ˌprɪvətaɪˈzeɪʃ(ə)n/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Improves Efficiency: One of the primary advantages of privatization is that private companies often operate more efficiently than government entities because they are profit-driven. They are more motivated to cut costs and be more innovative to stay competitive in the market.
  2. Greater Focus on Customer Satisfaction: A privately operated company is also more likely to prioritize customer satisfaction as they rely on consumer patronage for their profitability and survival. Conversely, public entities might not have the same incentive to cater to their customers’ needs.
  3. Potential Risk of Monopolies: On the downside, privatization can lead to monopolies or oligopolies, where only a few strangleholds operate within an industry. This can limit competition and in turn, lead to higher costs for consumers.


Privatization is a significant term in business and finance as it refers to the process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency, public service, or public property from the public sector, which is the government, to the private sector, either to a business that operates for a profit or to a nonprofit organization. It is important because it can lead to greater efficiency and productivity, primarily driven by the profit incentive that private companies have. Private companies tend to be more competitive, innovative, and customer-centric, often leading to cost reduction and improved quality of goods and services. Additionally, privatization can provide the government with quick short-term financial gains from selling the public asset, money which can be used for public needs. Therefore, the term is crucial in the discussion of economic policy, public finance, and industry performance as it influences market dynamics and government’s role in the economy.


Privatization is an economic policy that is often implemented with the purpose of enhancing efficiencies within the economic system. This policy refers to the transfer of ownership, or the delegation of overall control and operation, of a business, enterprise, agency, public service, or public property from the public sector, which is the state or government, to the private sector, which involves the individual or the general populace. The underlying reason for adopting this policy is rooted in the belief that private entities are generally more efficient and effective at managing operations, as they are driven by profit incentives and are likely to employ strategies to minimize costs and maximize output.The usage of privatization varies from one jurisdiction to another. In some cases, the process may involve just the sale of all equity stakes in a state-owned enterprise to private sector investors, embodying a total exit of the government from the business. In other instances, there may only be a partial sale, resulting in joint management or the complete handover of the management while the government retains some equity. In addition to streamlining operations, privatization is often used to generate revenues, which can be helpful to the government when managing financial emergencies or servicing debts. Ultimately, privatization aims to lessen government expenditure, enhance competitiveness, and promote the more efficient use of resources.


1. British Rail Privatization: In 1993, the British government privatized British Rail, which was previously a state-owned company managing all rail transportation. The infrastructure was divided into over 100 franchises which were then sold to private companies resulting in increased competition, improved efficiency and service levels to some extents.2. Privatization of Telefónica in Spain: A state-owned monopoly since 1924, Telefónica was privatized in several phases between 1987 and 1999. This opened up Spain’s telecommunication sector to competition, leading to reduced prices and increased service quality for consumers.3. Privatization of Alaska’s Airports: In 1998, Anchorage International Airport was the first U.S. airport to apply for the Federal Aviation Administration’s pilot privatization program. The aim was to lower the costs and increase efficiency of operations, services, facilities, and fees. These examples demonstrate how the shift from government ownership to private sector can often result in more efficient management, competitive pricing, and improved overall service.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is privatization in finance and business terminology?

Privatization is the process of transferring ownership of a public sector or government service or business to a private sector entity. This often involves the sale or lease of state-owned assets.

Why does privatization occur?

Governments often opt for privatization to increase efficiency and productivity, reduce public sector costs, improve quality of services, decrease public debt, or generate money from the sale of the assets.

What are the types of privatization?

The main forms include share issue privatization, asset sale privatization, voucher privatization, and franchises or contracts under private–public partnerships.

What are the benefits of privatization?

Benefits can include increased efficiency, more competition in the sector, improved quality and/or reduction of costs, budget relief, and increased public safety.

Are there any drawbacks of privatization?

Yes, potential drawbacks may include job cuts, higher prices due to a lack of public control, socio-economic imbalance, and a focus on profit over public interest.

Can privatization be reversed?

Yes, however, it is typically complex and challenging. This process, called nationalization or renationalization , involves the government taking control of private industry assets.

Can you give me some examples of privatization?

Examples of privatization include the sale of government-owned airlines, telecommunication companies, or utilities to private corporations, such as the privatization of British Telecom in the UK.

How does privatization affect the economy of a country?

Privatization can improve economic growth by improving efficiency and productivity, generating capital from sale of the assets, and attracting domestic or foreign investment. However, it may also lead to socio-economic inequality if not done carefully.

Is privatization the same as deregulation?

No, while both involve reducing government control in the economy, privatization focuses on transferring ownership from the public to private sector, whereas deregulation involves reducing the rules and regulations governing how enterprises in the private sector operate.

What does it mean when you say a company is being privatized?

When a company is being privatized, it means that the government is selling its shares in the company to private investors or other businesses. As a result, it becomes a privately-run entity.

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