It is challenging to provide an encompassing portrait of Mario Nuti's life and works: he was an exceptional man, who made significant intellectual contributions across a wide range of fields, as well as inspiring generations of students, colleagues and the profession in general, for more than fifty years. A brilliant debater and controversialist, he was equally at home in economic theory and in giving policy advice, and over the decades he had made significant contributions to many branches of the discipline. In this memorial article, we try to give a flavour of the man and his work, hopefully reminding the conoscenti of Mario's perceptive and original work, while introducing a new generation of scholars to his distinctive take on the field of economics.
In this paper, we pursue two related research questions. First, we enquire whether state owned enterprises (SOEs) perform better than privately owned firms in a large variety of emerging markets. To test this, we develop a unique dataset using firm-level data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES), resulting in a sample of over 50,000 firms from 57 understudied countries including emerging capitalist, former socialist and state capitalist ones. Our results suggest that SOEs do display productivity advantages over private firms in these understudied economies. Our second research question asks whether the performance of state owned firms in these understudied countries is context specific, namely whether performance depends on the institutional system into which a country is classified. We refer to these systems as configurations. In particular, we are interested in whether state owned firms perform better in “state capitalist” countries including China and Vietnam. We find empirical support for the argument that the “state-led” configuration provides better institutional support for the ownership advantages of SOEs than others.