Over the two and a half decades of economic reform in China, two types of Chinese firms have consistently outperformed their peers. In the 1980s, it was the firms at the lower levels of the industrial hierarchy, the township and village enterprises that were closely monitored by local governments. In the 1990s and beyond, the top performers have been those Chinese firms that have formal relationships with foreign investors. While many studies on the economic reforms in China have focused on the hardening of budget constraints and the transfer of technology from foreign to Chinese firms, I focus here on the stability created by relationships with local government offices and with powerful foreign investors. Where advocates of shock therapy have argued that a rapid transition to market institutions was the best path to building a market economy, I argue that the successful practices of the market are learned gradually over time, and the Chinese firms that are stabilized by attention from local government offices and relationships with foreign investors are well-positioned to successfully navigate China’s emerging markets. A quantitative analysis of 81 firms in industrial Shanghai and three case studies help illuminate the mechanisms behind these relationships.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Strategy and Management