Evolution and Structure of Business Groups in a Post-Revolutionary Economy: Privatization and Conglomerate Ownership in the Islamic Republic

Kevan Harris, University of California, Los Angeles

Who owns the commanding heights in the Islamic Republic of Iran? Examining the top 100 firms on the Tehran Stock Exchange, this paper finds a diverse set of ownership categories existing across economic sectors, associated with public, parastatal, pension, and provincial institutional investors. The main similarity between investors is the form through which ownership took place: the diversified business group. The persistence of the diversified business group is not unique to Iran. Instead, diversified business groups profitably thrive in Turkey and Gulf emirates, as they do in liberalized economies such as South Korea, Israel, Mexico, and South Africa. As foreign capital comes to Iran, new cleavages will likely appear in the economic commanding heights. Many existing business groups will shrink or change ownership. But the organizational form of the diversified conglomerate will likely persist and remain dominant in Iran's political economy through the next wave of business restructuring and beyond.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 199. Changing States and Changing Economies