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Abstract: Singapore has experienced exceptional economic success, lifting itself from third world to first world in fewer than four decades. Moreover, public enterprises have been a key instrument in Singapore's economic growth instead of the obstacle that they are so often in other developing countries. By 2004, however, Singapore was rethinking the role of its public enterprises in part because its economic growth was slowing and its strategy seemed to be faltering. Critics worried that public enterprises were simply not nimble enough to keep pace in an increasingly competitive global economy while defenders argued that a small nation like Singapore could not afford to rely on private companies to make the strategic investments it needed to remain competitive. The debate in Singapore raised interesting questions for other countries.
Learning Objective: The case can serve as a platform for discussion of the pros and cons of state-owned enterprises in a world where many countries' economic growth are driven by private enterprises.