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Takeovers and the Evolution of the Electricity Sector in Britain and Spain: The Insights and Limits of the Varieties of Capitalism Perspective

CSGR Working Paper 259/09

Rocío Valdivielso del Real

March 2009


Privatisation, liberalisation and re-regulation have become major forces shaping societies and economies the world over. These developments have brought along major changes in the ownership and regulated environment of utility industries. However, the presence of substantial change on these issues has not led to convergence on important issues across national business systems. This paper highlights the importance of the continuing relevance of national institutions of corporate governance and employment relations in the evolution of the electricity sector. The central question deals with the importance of the market for corporate control (i.e. takeovers) in the evolution of the electricity sector in Britain and Spain. Two contributions are provided. First, we show how national-based explanations such as those presented in the Varieties of Capitalism (VoC) theoretical framework constitute a key variable to understand cross-national differences in the impact of the market for corporate control on the evolution of the electricity sector. Second, we demonstrate how the institutionally-based VoC perspective does not fully capture the political origins of the institutional frameworks of the two countries – it is best complemented by incorporating notions of state activism in contemporary capitalism.

Key Words: Globalisation, Liberalisation, Corporate Governance, State Activism, Electricity Sector, Britain and Spain.

Contact Details:

Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR)

University of Warwick
CV4 7AL Coventry (UK)