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Why China's economic reforms differ: the M-form hierarchy and entry/expansion of the non-state sector

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  • Yingyi Qian
  • Chenggang Xu

Abstract

China's thirteen years of reforms (1979-1991) have achieved an average GNP annual growth rate of 8.6%. What makes China's reforms from those of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union is the sustained entry and expansion of the non-state sector. We argue that the organization structure of the economy matters. Unlike their unitary hierarchical structure based on the functional or specialization principles (the U-form), China's hierarchical economy has been the multi-layer-multi-regional one mainly based on territorial principle (the deep M-form, or briefly, the M-form). Reforms have further decentralized the M-form economy along regional lines, which provided flexibility and opportunities for carrying out regional experiments, for the rise of non-state enterprises, and for the emergence of markets. This is why China's non-state sector share of industrial output increased from 22% in 1978 to 47% in 1991 and its private sector's share from zero to about 10%, both being achieved without mass privatization and changes in the political system.
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Suggested Citation

  • Yingyi Qian & Chenggang Xu, 1993. "Why China's economic reforms differ: the M-form hierarchy and entry/expansion of the non-state sector," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 1(2), pages 135-170, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:etrans:v:1:y:1993:i:2:p:135-170
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    1. McMillan, John & Naughton, Barry, 1992. "How to Reform a Planned Economy: Lessons from China," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 130-143, Spring.
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    5. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "Horizontal vs. Vertical Information Structure of the Firm," Chapters,in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 5, pages 57-58 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. repec:fth:harver:1512 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
    8. Byrd, William A., 1987. "The impact of the two-tier plan/market system in chinese industry," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 295-308, September.
    9. Sicular, T., 1992. "Public Finance and China's Economic Reforms," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1618, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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