Implications of restructuring and privatisation for competitiveness and performance : two Brazilian steel companies
The thesis examines the effects of the privatisation process on productivity, competitiveness and performance in two major Brazilian steel companies, which were privatised in between 1991 and 1993. The case study method was adopted in this research due to its strengths as a useful technique allowing in-depth examination of the privatisation process, the context in which it happened and its effects on the companies. The thesis has developed a company analysis framework consisting of three components: management, competitiveness/productivity and performance and examined the evidence on the companies within this framework. The research indicates that there is no straightforward relationship between privatisation, competitiveness and performance. There were many significant differences in the management and technological capabilities, products and performance of the two companies, and these have largely influenced the effects of privatisation on each company. Company Alpha's strengths in technological and management capabilities and high value added products explain strong productivity and financial performance during and after privatisation. Company Beta's performance was weak before the privatisation and remained weak immediately after. Before the privatisation, weaknesses in management, commodity type low value added products and shortage of funds for investment were the major problems. These were compounded by greater government interference. Despite major restructuring, the poor performance has continued after privatisation largely because the company has not been able to improve its productivity sufficiently to be cost competitive in commodity type markets. Both companies state that their strategies have changed significantly. They claim to be more responsive to market conditions and customers and are attempting to develop closer links with major customers. It is not possible to assess the consequences of these changes in the short time that has elapsed since privatisation but Alpha appears to be more effective in developing a coherent strategy because of its strengths. Both companies accelerated their programme of organisational restructuring and reducing the number of their employees during the privatisation process to improve productivity and performance. Alpha has attained standards comparable to major international steel companies. Beta has had to make much bigger organisational changes and cuts in its labour force but its productivity levels still remain low in comparison with Alpha and international competitors.