The Fate of the Yugoslav Model: A Case Against Conformity


The American Journal of Comparative Law

Winter 2004, vol. 52, n°1, pp.287-319

Départements : Droit et fiscalité

ln the Socialist Federation of the Republics of Yugoslavia (the former Yugoslavia), most enterprises were socially-owned. These enterprises were the fIagship of the famous Yugoslav model of self-management: neither private nor state-owned, they were a collective property controlled by their employees, the "workers". The former Yugoslavia is now history, and so will soon be the socially-owned enterprises: this country's five successor States (the former Yugoslav republics) have undertaken a mass privatization that should ultimately result in a complete eradication of this legal form. ln a context of transition to a market economy, this option is banal. But the socially-owned enterprises are_not, for their peculiar legal nature as weil as their mode of governance entail disconcerting legal questions, e.g. what do they own? Who owns them? Gan they be privatized without a prior nationalization? This paper argues that the decision of the former Yugoslav republics to replace, rather than adapt, the Yugoslav model, has implicitly allowed a summary examination of these questions at the expense of the rule of law and, in turn, of the market value of the privatized enterprises. This paper is based on a comparative study conducted in the former Yugoslav republics during the period 1998 - 2003. It describes the theoretical and practical complexity of the socially-owned enterprises, and provides a critical analysis of the conditions - and the outcome - of their privatization to date.