The Impact of Privatization on Management Control Systems in Less Developed Countries - Comparative Case Study from Egypt

  • Ahmed Derbala

Student thesis: Phd


The current research is motivated by the controversy between the proponents and opponents of privatizing SOEs in LDCs concerning its impact on the MCSs designed and implemented in these companies. On the one hand, proponents expect privatization to foster the design and implementation of market-based, consensual and transparent MCSs. On the other hand, opponents are more critical about the 'actual' changes that privatization might entail to SOEs' MCSs as they expect it to entail the design and implementation of non-transparent, coercive MCSs. When examined closely, this conflict was found to be rooted in the different theoretical perspectives adopted by each side. While proponents base their arguments, mostly, on 'traditional' agency and property-rights theories that underplay the role of structure in shaping the MCSs designed and implemented in privatized companies, many of the opponents base their arguments on neo-Marxist theories that underplay the role of agency in that process (namely labour process theory- LPT). The current research contributes to this debate through developing a power-informed theoretical model that acknowledges the role of both agency and structure in shaping the nature of the pre- and post-privatization MCSs designed and implemented in companies operating in LDCs. The model provides an attempt to develop the Hopper et al (2009) model through integrating into it a theory of power informed by the works of Lukes (1974 and 2005) and Gaventa (1980 and 2007) while adopting the integrative agency-structure approach suggested by Mahoney and Snyder (1999).Once developed, the model is used to guide the analysis of the relevant literature pertaining to Egypt's supra-national and national power relations and structural factors throughout its state and market capitalism eras as a first step towards comparatively analysing the pre- and post-privatization power relations and MCSs manifesting in two Egyptian companies. The empirical data was mainly collected through conducting semi-structured interviews in the two companies and with some of the government officials involved in their privatization. Other sources of data include the companies' internal records and financial reports, government publications, and newspapers. The comparative analysis shows how the power-informed model can help shed more light onto the nature of, and the dynamics of change in, MCSs transformations in LDCs; without having to abandon LPT as one of the main theoretical perspectives informing the analysis. While doing so, the nature of a company's MCSs (be it coercive, consensual, or irrelevant) is found to reflect the power relations manifesting in that company (namely, powerful management, comparatively powerful management and labour, or powerful labour, respectively). Furthermore, as the comparative analysis shows, it is found that privatization is more likely to result in changing the nature of a SOE's MCSs when it entails altering the power relations shaping these MCSs.
Date of Award31 Dec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorSven Modell (Supervisor) & Danture Wickramasinghe (Supervisor)


  • Less Developed Countries
  • Management Control Systems
  • Privatization
  • Power

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