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From the Grabbing Hand to the Helping Hand

  • Jiahua Che

I present a study of ownership of firms under government rent seeking. Using its control of regulated inputs, a government agency extracts rents from a manager who undertakes an investment. Such a government rent seeking activity leads to a typical hold-up problem. Government ownership is shown to serve as a second best commitment mechanism through which the government agency will restrain itself from the rent seeking activity and even offer the manager support and favor such as tax breaks and subsidies. This mechanism works at a cost as government ownership compromises ex post managerial incentives and creates distortion in resource allocation. Nevertheless, under some fairly general conditions, government ownership Pareto dominates private ownership. The analysis corresponds to a host of stylized empirical observations concerning local government-owned firms during China's transition to a market economy. Based on this analysis, I suggest that local government owned firms will be transformed to private ownership as China's input markets become more liberalized.

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Paper provided by William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in its series William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series with number 58.

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Length: pages
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2000-58
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  1. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  14. Banerjee, A.V., 1997. "A Theory of Misgovernance," Working papers 97-4, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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