PRIVATIZATION IN COSTA RICA: A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL ANALYSIS
Chamberlain, Anthony Brian
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This dissertation offers an assessment of the last 25 years of privatization efforts in Costa Rica. The study argues that the example of Central America's most economically developed country illustrates that one-dimensional thinking about privatization of state services is misdirected. That judgment remains true whether the "one dimension" represents indiscriminate acceptance of privatization or its doctrinaire rejection. More specifically, separate case studies of three types of privatization attempted in Costa Rica demonstrate that in some cases privatization indeed represents an effective response to the particular historical circumstances the country faces. In other instances, however, privatization can be inappropriate. This judgment is based on historical investigation, the testimony of recognized authorities, logical analysis of arguments both for and against privatization, and on responses to the program on the parts of key economic sectors. The argument is made in seven chapters. The first defines terms and provides historical perspective on the topic by examining the concept of privatization in general within the context of commercial globalization and of capitalism itself. Chapter II continues in this historical vein, this time reviewing the history of Costa Rica's general political-economy - in order to convey Costa Rica's unique character and context. Chapter III connects Chapters I and II by contextualizing Costa Rican privatization within the international economic crisis of the 1970s and early 1980s. Within that context, the stages of Costa Rica's integration into the process of globalization are delineated. Chapters IV, V and VI then evaluate repeated attempts to privatize many of Costa Rica's nationalized enterprises. The chosen ventures include the Costa Rican Development Corporation (CODESA), the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) (which includes telecommunications), and the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS/INS). The chapters in question review the nature of each concern, its genesis, the reasons advanced for its privatization, and the spectrum of opinion evaluating the privatization process and results. A concluding seventh chapter reviews the dissertation's argument, synthesizes the evaluations provided by the case studies, draws conclusions, and makes recommendations for the future of privatization in Costa Rica.