Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Peters

Second Advisor

Dr. Jam es Visser

Third Advisor

Dr. Michelle Miller-Adams


Before any more sales o f public stakes in parastatals are carried out, we need a robust public debate. We also feel that the interests o f Kenyans, whose taxes built those parastatals, should be recognized. A new policy, which gives Kenyans the first right to buy parastatals, is needed. (Editorial-Daily Nation, Nairobi Publication, Retrieved 9/17/2006 http://www. nationmedia. com/dailynation)

This study reviews the progress and challenges of implementing privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) reform program in Kenya during the period 1979- 2002 as part of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). The impetus for implementing privatization reform program has two sources: (1) opposition to further growth of the public sector, and (2) the belief that the private sector would be a more efficient producer. I examine the juncture of international, economic, and domestic factors on the state’s ability to transfer ownership of public enterprises from the state into private hands. The challenge is to consider different environmental factors that would enhance implementation of privatization programs and to design an appropriate model of governmental intervention through the analysis of many development theories, strategies and experiences.

This study seeks to develop a ‘practitioner’s privatization model’; a framework or method for government managers to use when deciding which SOE to privatize or retain. The model draws from the two common approaches of implementing privatization reforms; the “gradual approach” and “big-bang approach” within the context of external and internal dimensions.

The Kenyan case demonstrates the difficulties of implementing privatization in a relatively small open economy with significant legacy of state interventionism. My central thesis is that the political, economic and institutional context and their mutual interaction are crucial in explaining the pace or success of implementing a privatization program. The study is timely and informative with its reflection on the accomplishments and challenges of Kenya’s recent economic reform initiatives. The slow implementation and U-turns so familiar and frustrating to outsiders has a political logic. What appears contradictory from the outside actually comprises an internally balanced political strategy for managing a potentially complex transition. By focusing on the determinant of implementing privatization reform, this dissertation adds to a growing body of literature on the political economy of market reforms that seeks to further elucidate the evolving global convergence around neoliberal economic reforms.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access