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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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  • Qian, Yingyi
  • Xu, Chenggang

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Qian, Yingyi & Xu, Chenggang, 1993. "Why China's economic reforms differ: the M-form hierarchy and entry/expansion of the non-state sector," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 121941, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:121941
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    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General

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