Does Sequencing Matter? Regulation and Privatization in Telecommunications Reforms

21 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2002

Date Written: February 2002


The question of the most effective order of reforming state-owned enterprises has been hotly debated over the years. In the early 1990s many western advisers encouraged Eastern European countries and the former Soviet Union to privatize firms quickly under the assumption that market institutions would develop once firms were privately owned. The thinking since then has emphasized the importance of establishing an institutional framework conducive to promoting competition before privatizing firms. To date, there has been little empirical work clarifying the debate.

Wallsten attempts to address this gap by examining the effects of the sequence of reform in telecommunications, particularly the effects of establishing a regulatory authority prior to privatizing incumbent telecommunications firms.

Consistent with current thinking, Wallsten finds that countries that established separate regulatory authorities prior to privatization saw increased telecommunications investment, fixed telephone penetration, and cellular penetration compared with countries that did not. Moreover, he finds that investors are willing to pay more for telecommunications firms in countries that established a regulatory authority before privatization. This increased willingness to pay is consistent with the hypothesis that investors require a risk premium to invest where regulatory rules remain unclear.

This paper - a product of Macroeconomics and Growth, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to understand network industry reforms.

Keywords: privatization, regulation, telecommunications

JEL Classification: L5, L9, L96

Suggested Citation

Wallsten, Scott, Does Sequencing Matter? Regulation and Privatization in Telecommunications Reforms (February 2002). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2817. Available at SSRN:

Scott Wallsten (Contact Author)

Technology Policy Institute ( email )

409 12th St., SW
Ste 700
Washington, DC 20024
United States
2027309441 (Phone)


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