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Title: Regulation of utilities in developing countries
Author: Wren-Lewis, Liam
ISNI:       0000 0001 0821 9494
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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The efficient operation and expansion of utilities in developing countries is crucial for growth and poverty reduction. However, recent reforms aimed at improving the performance of these sectors through privatization and the introduction of new regulatory regimes have had limited success. This thesis aims to consider the most pertinent problems for utility regulation in developing countries and how policy may need to be adapted appropriately. The thesis begins by surveying the most recent empirical and theoretical work on the area. I argue that four key institutional limitations commonly found in developing countries must be considered when designing regulatory policy: Limited capacity, limited accountability, limited commitment and limited fiscal efficiency. The remainder of the thesis then focuses on two of these weaknesses – limited commitment and limited accountability – to develop further insights into how regulatory policy may be most suitably adapted. In considering the effect of limited commitment, I pursue a theoretical approach. I first focus on the relationship between the government and the utility operator when the government cannot commit to a time-inconsistent policy of not expropriating investment. After building a model where reputation is used to sustain investment in equilibrium, I consider the model’s implications for policy. The thesis then builds a different model to consider the impact of governments’ inability to commit when trading electricity internationally. I focus on the resulting hold-up problem and the impact this has on investment levels within trading countries. The effect of limited accountability is then investigated empirically through the analysis of data on electricity firms and regulators in Latin America. In particular, I consider how firms’ performance is affected by corruption, ownership and regulatory governance, looking in detail at interactions between these variables and attempting to break down regulatory governance into its various components.
Supervisor: Vickers, John Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Development economics ; Industrial economics ; regulation ; development ; institutions