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Rent Seeking and Government Ownership of Firms: An Application to China’s Township-Village Enterprises

  • Jihua Che

    ()

Using its control of regulated inputs, a government agency extracts rents from a manager who undertakes an investment. Such government rent-seeking activity leads to a typical hold-up problem. Government ownership serves as a second-best commitment mechanism, through which the government agency will restrain itself from the rent-seeking activity and may even offer the manager assistance in the form of tax breaks and subsidies. This mechanism works at a cost, however, as government ownership also compromises ex post managerial incentives and creates distortion in resource allocation. Nevertheless, government ownership Pareto dominates private ownership under certain conditions. These conditions correspond to a host of stylized empirical observations concerning local government-owned firms, i.e., township-village enterprises, during China’s transition to a market economy.

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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 497.

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2002-497
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  1. Jiahua Che & Yingyi Qian, 1998. "Institutional Environment, Community Government, and Corporate Governance: Understanding China's Township-Village Enterprises," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 59, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  2. Daniel M. Berkowitz & Wei Li, 1997. "Decentralizing in Transition Economies: A Tragedy of the Commons?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 45, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Tian, Guoqiang, 2000. "Property Rights and the Nature of Chinese Collective Enterprises," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 247-268, June.
  4. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-58, December.
  5. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Chang Chun & Wang Yijiang, 1994. "The Nature of the Township-Village Enterprise," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 434-452, December.
  7. Putterman, Louis, 1997. "On the past and future of china's township and village-owned enterprises," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(10), pages 1639-1655, October.
  8. Banerjee, A.V., 1997. "A Theory of Misgovernance," Working papers 97-4, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  10. Jiahua Che, 2000. "From the Grabbing Hand to the Helping Hand," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 58, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  11. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  12. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1997. "A Theory of Misgovernance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1289-1332, November.
  13. Hsiao, Cheng & Nugent, Jeffrey & Perrigne, Isabelle & Qiu, Jicheng, 1998. "Shares versus Residual Claimant Contracts: The Case of Chinese TVEs," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 317-337, June.
  14. Naughton, Barry, 1994. "Chinese Institutional Innovation and Privatization from Below," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 266-70, May.
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