abstract  This paper explains, through a field study and from an agency perspective, how monitoring and incentive alignment mechanisms change to support the interests of a privatized firm's new ownership. In this case, privatization led to important changes in the board of directors and to more formal performance evaluation and compensation systems for top managers, as profitability and financial control gained relevancy with the firm ownership change. Our results show that differences in incentives management before and after privatization are due to different agency relations in the two periods. We also argue that in a privatization framework the relation between monitoring and incentive alignment mechanisms is complex, not simply substitutive as agency theory would predict, and this finding allows us to refine and extend agency theory for this specific context.