Since the 1980s privatization has become a popular policy of an increasing number of developed and developing countries. This article reviews some of the literature on privatization and policy change and seeks to explore the range of contexts within which privatization policies emerged in contemporary government. It is suggested that privatization policies are not simply an end-product of economic prescriptions, but should rather be seen as a result of an interaction of exogenous and endogenous factors, some structural and others more actor-induced. These include economic and fiscal crises, crisis of the dominant policy consensus, the emergence of a new ideological hegemony, intentions of political leaders, bureaucratic self-interest, and to some extent, client politics and international influence. What appears as similarity in privatization policy may have hidden significantly diverse policy motives. Copyright © 1997 Marcel Dekker.