Post-privatization performance and organizational changes: Case studies from Ghana
Critical Perspectives on Accounting
Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, University House, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom; University of Ghana Business School, Ghana; Barclays Bank, Ghana
A significant number of less developed countries (LDCs), including Ghana, have embraced the World Bank/IMF led economic reforms. Ghana has been implementing these reforms since the early 1980. One of the conditions of the reforms is the privatization of former state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Such privatization activities have however generated debates among academics, practitioners, and policy makers. Research findings so far have been mixed. This paper analyzes the performance of two large privatized companies in Ghana. Both companies have been paraded by the Ghanaian authorities and the international financial community as success stories of privatization. Our objective is to examine how and why these firms have been claimed to be successful. Drawing on the dimensions of the balanced scorecard, we examine the performance of the firms from five main perspectives-financial, customers, internal business process, learning and growth, and the community. The analysis is based on data gathered from diverse sources, namely, semi-structured interviews and discussions with managers of the selected companies and with personnel from key government departments, and analysis of internal and external documents. We conclude that, overall the performance of both organizations improved after privatization under all the performance dimensions examined. These improvements were also accompanied by certain organizational changes, including changes in the accounting and control systems. However we are not claiming that all privatization programs in Ghana have been successful. In fact there are stories in the Ghanaian media of several other privatization failures in the country. Instead what we have demonstrated is the need to explain the performance of privatized firms beyond the myopic macro-level and financial analysis which has been widely adopted by the international financial community and policy makers and we encourage other researchers to adopt such multidimensional approaches. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd.