Alternatives to Privatization

Public Options for Essential Services in the Global South

Edited by David A. McDonald, Greg Ruiters

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Critics of privatization are often told they present no alternatives. This book takes up that challenge, proposing conceptual models for what constitutes an 'alternatives to privatization' and analyses what makes them successful (or not), backed up by empirical data on creative public service initiatives in over 40 countries in the Global South. This ground-breaking study provides a robust platform for comparisons across regions and sectors, with a focus on health water and electricity. Alternatives to Privatization is a compelling study and has been written by leading academics, practitioners and activists in the field.

David A. McDonald

David A. McDonald is Professor of Global Development Studies at Queen's University, Canada, and Co-Director of the Municipal Services Project.

Greg Ruiters

Prof. Gregory Ruiters is Professor of Public Policy, School of Government, University of Western Cape. Co-Director Municipal Services Project. Previous Position: Director of Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) and Mathew Goniwe Chair and Professor in Development and Society, Rhodes University.


At a time that neoliberal solutions to social services have lost credibility, this book argues convincingly that alternatives to privatization exist and are often more effective than private enterprises. Drawing on examples in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, this book drives home the lesson that broad-based consultation and participation in service delivery is an essential ingredient of success.

Walden Bello

The book aims to bring together academics, activists, unionists, social movements and non-governmental organisations involved in the debates over alternatives to privatisation, all of whom are seeking better models for research on public service provision. Although it focuses on particular sectors in particular regions, the findings are relevant to other services and to other parts of the world. Information of this kind is urgently required for practitioners and analysts alike, who are seeking reliable knowledge on what kinds of public models work.


The conceptual work by McDonald and Ruiters . . . is invaluable in laying down a firm foundation within which the empirical work can then be situated. The core, animating question in this regard being, what constitutes alternatives?’ . . . This is impressive empirical work, representing the most comprehensive review of practical alternatives ever assembled in one publication.

South African Review of Sociology