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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, Cheng-Gang

Abstract

China's thirteen years of economic reforms (1979-1991) have achieved an average GNP annual growth rate of 8.6%. What makes China's reforms differ 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 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, Cheng-Gang, 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 3755, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:3755
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/3755/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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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    4. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1992. "The Transition to a Market Economy: Pitfalls of Partial Reform," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 889-906.
    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.
    6. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
    7. Richard E. Ericson, 1991. "The Classical Soviet-Type Economy: Nature of the System and Implications for Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 11-27, Fall.
    8. Bolton, Patrick & Farrell, Joseph, 1990. "Decentralization, Duplication, and Delay," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 803-826, August.
    9. Kornai, Janos, 1986. "The Hungarian Reform Process: Visions, Hopes, and Reality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 1687-1737, December.
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    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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