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Chinese Township-Village Enterprises as Vaguely Defined Cooperatives

  • Weitzman Martin L.
  • Xu Chenggang

This paper concerns the paradoxes and dilemmas that the very successful "Chinese model" presents for transition theory. The "Chinese model" is centered on the development of township-village enterprises. The main purpose of this paper is to make the case that TVE's are not just some form of disguised capitalist institution; they are much better described as "vaguely defined cooperatives" - meaning an essentially communal organization extremely far removed from having well defined ownership structure. That a transition strategy based on vaguely defined cooperatives should be so successful presents a severe challenge for traditional property theory. We speculate that to address this challenge properly, traditional property rights should be extended by including a dimension corresponding to the degree of individualism/cooperation existing in a society. A model of the required extension is described. Implications and application are discussed.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Comparative Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (1994)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 121-145

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:18:y:1994:i:2:p:121-145
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622864

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  1. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Bull, Clive, 1987. "The Existence of Self-Enforcing Implicit Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 147-59, February.
  4. 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 130-43, Spring.
  5. Chen, Kang & Jefferson, Gary H. & Singh, Inderjit, 1992. "Lessons from China's economic reform," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 201-225, June.
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