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New Co-operatives in China: An Indigenous Model of Social Enterprises


  • Li Zhao

    () (HIVA, Catholic University of Leuven)

  • Patrick Develtere

    () (HIVA, Catholic University of Leuven)


This paper aims to fill the academic gaps in the study of the new co-operative movement in China and its innovative mechanisms, and to get a more comprehensive idea of new co-operatives operating as home-grown Chinese social enterprises, by exploring the dynamic process of co-operative practice and social innovation in rural China. As an alternative to the popularly ideal-co-operative perspective, the paper develops a conceptual model from the perspective of a real-type co-operative concept, by employing a historical neo-institutional perspective combined with power-and-resource-related theory. Using this model it shows how institutional legacies from the past as well as resources and environments in the present can influence and shape co-operative development in rural China. By providing a consistent, systematic analysis with an emphasis on the bottom-up institutional innovation process, the paper helps to explain some of the conceptual and practical difficulties that hamper the understanding of new co-operative development in China.

Suggested Citation

  • Li Zhao & Patrick Develtere, 2010. "New Co-operatives in China: An Indigenous Model of Social Enterprises," Working Papers on Social and Co-operative Entrepreneurship 1001, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, HIVA, Cera Centre for Co-operative Entrepreneurship.
  • Handle: RePEc:hva:wpssce:1001

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    More about this item


    China; Social enterprise; Land-based shareholding co-operative; Real type co-operative model; Path-depency; Resource-depency;

    JEL classification:

    • N45 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N55 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • P13 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Cooperative Enterprises
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy
    • P32 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Collectives; Communes; Agricultural Institutions
    • P35 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Public Finance

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