The networked city: managing power and water utilities in Portugal (1850s-1920s)

Álvaro Ferreira da Silva, Ana Cardoso de Matos

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This paper explores the evolution of power and water systems in Portugal throughout the period of urban infrastructure modernization. The network characteristics of electricity, gas, and sanitary equipment are emphasized, not only in its economic and technical characteristics, but also in its impact on management, regulation, and initial installation. Regulatory issues and conflicts
between private entrepreneurs and public authorities are particularly emphasized. Sometimes they provided the path to municipalization. Otherwise, the outcome of these conflicts enhanced regulatory mechanisms and long-term relationships between public and private institutions. The analysis of agency problems and the theory of contracts are used as the main theoretical devices to explain the outcome of these relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-45
JournalBusiness and Economic History
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Business History
  • Water Supply
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Lisbon


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