Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences / Energy Restructuring and Social Distribution in the Transition Economies of East Germany and Poland

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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences. 2011 4 (3)
Grigoriadis, Theocharis N.
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Grigoriadis, Theocharis N. : Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) , 49 Vas. Sofias, Athens, 10676 Greece , e-mail:
energy; restructuring; privatization; social distribution; East Germany; Poland; Treuhand; public ownership minimum

This article analyzes the politicаl economy of energy restructuring in East Germany and Poland from the perspective of social distribution. Its purpose is two-fold: on the one hand, it provides analytical dichotomies between regulatory vs. procedural and horizontal vs. hierarchical restructuring to explain the different paths in the liberal transformation of the energy industry in East Germany and Poland. The substitution of a central and legitimate government by Treuhand in the East German case as well as the central coordinating role of the government in the Polish case constitute the key indicators for these conceptual distinctions. On the other hand, post-socialist energy firms are treated as social distribution mechanisms, whose restructuring is defined by a public ownership minimum. Contrary to Treuhand, which functioned as an institutional sponsor for an ethnically-driven transfer of the East German energy sector to a set of subsidiaries of West German corporations, the Polish Ministry of Privatization preferred to adopt the equity constraint rather than regulate its energy policy preferences through the private sector. Private organizations or semi-legitimate public agencies captured by corporate interests have no incentive to maintain the public ownership minimum as the central government can. The existence of distributive energy firms implies distributive energy bureaucracies; the preservation of a public ownership minimum rather than inter-elite privatization contracts is a prerequisite for energy-driven distribution in post-socialism.

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