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Passenger rail SOEs as domestic institutional market actors

Lene Tolstrup Christensen (Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 5 March 2018




The purpose of this paper is to make an empirical-based conceptualization of the contemporary domestic state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as domestic institutional market actors (IMAs) in the marketization of public service delivery.


The paper is based on a qualitative comparative case study of the SOEs in passenger rail in Denmark and Sweden from 1990 to 2015.


The paper shows how marketization results in a layered institutional set-up of public service delivery based on both competition and monopoly where the SOE becomes what we call an IMA bridging sectorial challenges. In Sweden, this role has a new public governance form as the monopoly over time is fully dismantled. In Denmark, over time marketization is put on hold due to problems with the SOE as a market actor, but the SOE is nevertheless safeguarded in a new Weberian model as a sector coordinator.


The paper contributes to the recent literature on SOEs and marketization with an original and novel conceptualization of contemporary SOEs in public governance.



The project was sponsored by the Danish Innovations Fund as a part of the SUSTAIN project. The author would like to thank the editors and the anonymous reviewers of the special issue for comments to this paper. Next to that, the author would like to thank the author’s colleagues at the Department of Business and Politics, Professors Chris Skelcher and Giuseppe Grossi for commenting on the early versions of this work.


Christensen, L.T. (2018), "Passenger rail SOEs as domestic institutional market actors", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 128-141.



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