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Chinese township village enterprises as vaguely defined cooperations


  • Weitzman, M
  • Xu, Cheng-Gang


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 a well defined ownership structure. That a transition strategy based on vaguely defined cooperatives should be so successful presents a severe challenge for traditional property rights theory. We speculate that to address this challenge properly, traditional property rights theory 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 applications are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Weitzman, M & Xu, Cheng-Gang, 1993. "Chinese township village enterprises as vaguely defined cooperations," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3754, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:3754

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
    2. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
    3. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Clive Bull, 1987. "The Existence of Self-Enforcing Implicit Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(1), pages 147-159.
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    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General


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