UBC Theses and Dissertations
Autonomy and accountability in the crown corporation as illustrated by the British Columbia Development Corporation Thorn, Lyndagale Mary
As Canadian governments take a more active part in the management of the economy, they face the question of how to organize as efficient and socially responsible entrepreneurs. Increasingly, both federal and provincial governments have chosen the crown corporation form of public enterprise; this type of organization offers the advantages of a private corporation as well as the mechanisms to ensure accountability to government in important matters of policy and finance. This thesis considers the balance between operating autonomy and public accountability in the crown corporation form of public enterprise. Specifically, this is a case-study investigation of the organization and operation of the British Columbia Development Corporation. The British Columbia Development Corporation is the first body constituted as.a separate public enterprise in British Columbia to promote industrial development at the provincial level. Acting under a broad mandate, the corporation has the potential for substantial impact on the spatial and sectoral pattern of industrial growth throughout the province. Moreover, the British Columbia Development Corporation's industrial promotion activities are indicative of mote general economic policy. While the corporation was established to have direct impact on industry per se, this objective will affect other areas of economic policy concern such as overall provincial economic growth, financial stability, employment, and regional development, as well as such policy considerations as environmental protection and quality of life. Thus, the British Columbia Development Corporation may be considered to be an important instrument whereby the provincial government may institute long-range developmental planning in British Columbia. An analysis was undertaken of the incorporating statute, government documents, and publications of the British Columbia Development Corporation to define the balance between operating autonomy and public accountability. It was concluded that despite the form, government can organize public enterprise so as to exercise as much or as little centralized control as is considered necessary. In deference to the British Columbia Development Corporation's highly suasive mandate for influencing industrial development in British Columbia, it was determined that the corporation fulfills its objectives with limited statutory autonomy. Analysis of the activities pursued by the corporation between 1973 and 1977 supported this conclusion. The operational role of the British Columbia Development Corporation was found to be closely dependent on changes in the political environment under the New Democratic Party and Social Credit Party administrations. This thesis concludes with recommendations suggesting procedures which might clarify the relationship between the Legislature, the competent minister, and the crown corporation to increase corporate accountability to elected politicians and, ultimately, to the public.
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