While state-owned enterprises (SOEs) used to be considered obsolete tools for governmental intervention in the economy, in recent years governmental intervention in the business sector has re-emerged as a topic of debate. However, scholarship on the changes in and the modernisation of the SOE model is limited. In this article, we examine how the Finnish state's ownership policy adapted to the requirements of economic globalisation between the 1970s and the 2010s. We show that the attitude towards globalisation was pragmatic and aimed at safeguarding the competitiveness of domestic companies. The state-owned company system was gradually adapted to meet new needs, losing most of its original industrial policy significance. SOEs had to be made competitive and profitable, but company-specific targets depended on the ownership criteria associated with the companies. At the same time, the government paid more attention to supporting research and development in the private sector.