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Private and public interests in water and energy

Private and public interests in water and energy

Hall, David and Lobina, Emanuele ORCID: 0000-0003-4774-0308 (2004) Private and public interests in water and energy. Natural Resources Forum, 28 (4). pp. 268-277. ISSN 0165-0203 (doi:

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Based on empirical evidence from developed, transition and developing countries, the article looks at how the introduction of private operators' interests into the water supply/sanitation and energy sectors may conflict with public interests in socio-economic, environmental and political dimensions. Case studies are used to illustrate the dynamics of these interactions, covering phenomena such as unsolicited proposals, misrepresentation and corruption; the exploitation of established positions by taking advantage of asymmetry of information and negotiating capacity in relation to public authorities; and exit from contracts or concessions when acceptable profitability cannot be attained. This experience indicates that the introduction of private companies into these sectors creates the permanent possibility of conflict between private and public interests. The services are too vital both socially and economically to rely on corporate self-regulation, and countries lack effective capacity to regulate such corporations. The authors conclude that policies relying on corporate activity in these sectors are unnecessarily risky, and that policy development should focus on building strong public sector institutions to provide these services.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: water supply and sanitation, energy resources, public-private partnership (PPP), corporate social responsibility, competition, corruption, ethics, contract renegotiation, efficiency, independent power plants (IPP), public interest, governance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU)
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Last Modified: 13 Feb 2020 16:15

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