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Can a Tiger Change Its Stripes? Reform of Chinese State-Owned Enterprises in the Penumbra of the State

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Listed:
  • Ann Harrison
  • Marshall Meyer
  • Peichun Wang
  • Linda Zhao
  • Minyuan Zhao

Abstract

The majority of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China were privatized through ownership reforms over the last two decades. Using a comprehensive dataset of all medium and large enterprises in China between 1998 and 2013, we show that privatized SOEs continue to benefit from government support relative to private enterprises. Compared to private firms that were never state-owned, privatized SOEs are favored by low interest loans and government subsidies. These differences are more salient with the Chinese government’s trillion-dollar stimulus package introduced after the 2008 global financial crisis. Moreover, both SOEs and privatized SOEs significantly under-perform in profitability compared to private firms. Nevertheless there are clear improvements in performance post-privatization. The tiger can change its stripes; however, the government’s behavior seems to be sticky.

Suggested Citation

  • Ann Harrison & Marshall Meyer & Peichun Wang & Linda Zhao & Minyuan Zhao, 2019. "Can a Tiger Change Its Stripes? Reform of Chinese State-Owned Enterprises in the Penumbra of the State," NBER Working Papers 25475, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25475
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    1. repec:hrv:faseco:33077889 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Peltzman, Sam, 1971. "Pricing in Public and Private Enterprises: Electric Utilities in the United States," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 109-147, April.
    3. Daniel Berkowitz, 2016. "Recasting the Iron Rice Bowl: The Reform of China's State Owned Enterprises," Working Paper 5858, Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh.
    4. Boeing, Philipp & Mueller, Elisabeth & Sandner, Philipp, 2016. "China's R&D explosion—Analyzing productivity effects across ownership types and over time," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 159-176.
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    6. Du, Luosha & Harrison, Ann & Jefferson, Gary, 2014. "FDI Spillovers and Industrial Policy: The Role of Tariffs and Tax Holidays," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 366-383.
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    JEL classification:

    • L3 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • P31 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Socialist Enterprises and Their Transitions

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