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Performance of SOEs: evidence on Botswana Telecommunications Corporation

Mbako Mbo (School of Business, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Charles Adjasi (Department of Development Finance, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to investigate fundamental performance drivers in a state-owned enterprise (SOE) in the context of organizational theories.


This paper is based on a case analysis investigating how several factors, considered in the context of organizational theories, have combined to influence sustained performance at the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC). The study analyses both quantitative and qualitative data pertaining to an 18-year period from 1995 to 2012.


The paper supports the widely held view that agency and resource-based theories explain good performance, but challenges the popular view that political influence is always self-interest driven. A concept of positive public choice, under which such influence is driven by stakeholder interests and sustainability emerges. The case reveals that a selective approach to stakeholders defined how BTC crafted its good performance in a politically conducive environment.

Practical implications

Based on the research findings, a framework unifying political intervention with stakeholder interests needs to be developed and formalized with a link to SOE objectives. The framework would have clear performance measures linked to it, adequately monitored under a governance structure constituted from well-incentivized boards and managers with adequate strategic corporate resources under their control. The paper proposes such a framework.


The paper reveals an unexplored area of potential research, i.e. a positive public choice perspective under which societal interests are modeled with enterprise sustainability through political processes often blamed for poor performance.



Mbo, M. and Adjasi, C. (2017), "Performance of SOEs: evidence on Botswana Telecommunications Corporation", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 44 No. 7, pp. 960-979.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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