Why China's economic reforms differ: the m-form hierarchy and entry/expansion of the non-state sector
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.
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