Corporate governance of state-owned enterprises
: A theoretical perspective

  • Zahra'a al-Andaleeb

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis rethinks the conceptualization and corporate governance (CG) of fully State-owned enterprises (SOEs) from a theoretical perspective. It contributes to the renewed efforts to gain a better understanding of the governance of these complex organizations that stand between the market and the government and, thereby, contributes to the development of a theoretical framework of contemporary SOEs. As in theories of business organizations, this thesis tackles two underlying questions: what is the SOE and whose interests should it serve.It is an exploratory theoretical research that goes through two main stages. The first stage (chapters 2 & 3) investigates how the relevant literature conceptualizes SOEs, shapes their organizational structure and internal governance, and manages their accountability and governance relationships with the government. It critically analyzes the theoretical assumptions underlying the prevailing theories of SOEs, underpins the gap, and raises the need for a theoretical shift in the field. The second stage (chapters 4, 5, & 6) develops the institutional framework of SOEs and, guided by the framework, it studies three problematic areas of CG of SOEs: SOE-government relationship; internal CG; and accountability.The institutional framework redraws the boundaries of the SOE and conceptualizes it as an institutionalized business organization. Institutionalization means creating a distinctive framework (an order, a system) for business organizations within the public sector (i.e. SOEs). It is the process of embedding the structure and practices of an organization in the laws, norms, and values that promote and ensure commitment to good CG to serve its long-term purposes. Thereby, the thesis avoids the deficiencies in current systems of CG of SOEs and scholarly debates, and proposes adjustments to our engagement with the topic through a framework that considers and suits the unique functions, challenges, and opportunities of SOEs.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsKuwait University
SupervisorCiarán O'Kelly (Supervisor) & Ciara Hackett (Supervisor)


  • State-owned enterprises
  • corporate theory
  • legal institutionalism
  • corporate governance
  • theory of the firm
  • accountability
  • public enterprises

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