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Insecure Property Rights And Government Ownership Of Firms

  • Jiahua Che
  • Yingyi Qian

We develop a theory of the ownership of firms in an environment without secure property rights against state encroachment. "Private ownership" leads to excessive revenue hiding, and "state ownership" (i.e., national government ownership) fails to provide incentives for managers and local governments in a credible way. Because "local government ownership" integrates local government activities and business activities, local government may better serve the interests of the national government, and thus local government ownership may credibly limit state predation, increase local public goods provision, and reduce costly revenue hiding. We use our theory to interpret the relative success of local governmen-towned firms during China's transition to a market economy. © 2000 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 113 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 467-496

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:2:p:467-496
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  1. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Jiahua Che & Yingyi Qian, . "Institutional Environment, Community Government, and Corporate Governance: Understanding China's Township-Village Enterprises," Working Papers 97043, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  3. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  4. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," NBER Working Papers 5744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Yingyi Qian, 1996. "Enterprise reform in China: agency problems and political control," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 4(2), pages 427-447, October.
  6. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
  7. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Hart, Oliver D, 1988. "Incomplete Contracts and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 119-39, Spring.
  9. Schmidt, Klaus M, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization: An Incomplete Contracts Approach," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 1-24, April.
  10. Greif, Avner & Milgrom, Paul & Weingast, Barry R, 1994. "Coordination, Commitment, and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 745-76, August.
  11. Chang Chun & Wang Yijiang, 1994. "The Nature of the Township-Village Enterprise," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 434-452, December.
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