An Attempt at Crisis Management and Failure of the Spontaneous Privatization

Under planned economy, large state-owned enterprises used to enjoy considerable privileges and protection. They had to keep negotiating with the government for allocations and benefits, but their bargaining position was grounded in their central role in production, exports and employment, and supported by close relations with the administrative bodies of the governing party. The weakening of the old political system in the late 1980s resulted in the shaken position of formerly privileged firms. The threat of a crisis elicited a variety of responses: some enterprises adopted a strategy of wait-and-see, others tried to involve foreign investment, while a third group changed their organizational structure. During 1988 and 1989, more than a hundred enterprises transformed themselves into one or more companies. This process is known in Hungary as "spontaneous privatization."
This paper is one of the case studies of a research project, undertaken by Financial Research Ltd., focusing on transformation into company form as crisis management and its result, namely on the effect of corporate forms on the chances for privatization to succeed. We use the case of Ganz Danubius Ship and Crane Works (GD) to illustrate the alternatives and motivations of the parties concerned, their negotiations, the changes of the positions of shareholders and managers and the role of direct and indirect state control. The sources of information were the former investigations at GD, the study of enterprise documents and numerous interviews with managers and representatives of owners.

Industrial and Environmental Crisis Quarterly, Vol. 8. (1994) No. 1. 23-41.

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