Understanding the Conditions for Change in State-Owned Enterprises

The research study focused on four selected enterprises, namely Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Sri Lanka Railways (SLR), and Sri Lanka Central Transport Board (SLCTB) (public passenger bus transport). These entities were selected as representative case studies of the SOE sector given the crucial role they play in the country’s economic activities. The over-arching objectives of this research study were to look at a menu of options to facilitate better performance in key public enterprises and to stimulate a dialogue amongst the public, based on informed analysis, on the costs and benefits of reforms. Our research methodology consisted of a comprehensive literature survey, in-depth one-on-one interviews with major stakeholders, focus groups discussions, and expert consultations. This study explored both the economic and social costs of the status quo and the political forces at play determining the prospects for change. The primary research questions underpinning this research study were: a) what are the economic and social costs of the status quo?; b) what are the key policy changes that would help to reduce losses, improve efficiency, and ensure sustainability of the SOEs?; c) who are the key stakeholders (special interests or broad interests) in the change process?; d) how to buy-in “winners” and compensate “losers”?, and e) how can policy changes be implemented?

Research team

Dilani Hirimuthugodage
View profile
Malathy Knight-John


World Bank

Published Year