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Embedded interests and the managerial local state: methanol fuel-switching in China

  • Kostka, Genia
  • Hobbs, William

This paper analyzes the determinants of alternative automobile fuel regulation and development support with a particular focus on methanol fuel. We find that embedded interests, bureaucratic reforms, and political circumstances in the Chinese national, provincial, and municipal governments have all shaped policy outcomes in this area. The paper seeks to explain why at, the national level, support for alternative fuels has waned and finds that the concerns of state oil majors and disorganization during the process of national bureaucratic restructuring have been the deciding factors. Interestingly, at the sub-national level promotion of methanol continues unabated in some places. At the local level, business relationships as well as the embedded economic and personal interests of local leaders help to explain managerial local government behavior and sheds light on why government officials actively create and manage methanol fuel business opportunities through local standardization, subsidies, and hands-on management of SOE opposition. The switch towards methanol fuel was more successful in localities where individuals, either government officials or enterprise managers, formed an alliance and made this their 'pet projects'. The analysis draws on 55 interviews conducted between June and October 2010 in Shanxi, a major coal-producing province which has supported methanol fuel-switching programs for over ten years. The findings contribute to debates about the condition of the local state in China. The argument put forward in this paper is that because of limited state capacity at the central level and insufficient concerns for the development of alternative fuels in the short-term, some sub-national governments with strong embedded interests promote certain alternative fuels by taking on active managerial roles, adopting creative and ad-hoc strategies to fill in the national level policy gap at the local level.

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Paper provided by Frankfurt School of Finance and Management in its series Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series with number 152.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:152
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  1. Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten, 2009. "Kulturelle Hybridisierung und Wirtschaftstransformation in China," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 115, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
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  12. Bannier, Christina E. & Grote, Michael H., 2008. "Equity gap? - Which equity gap? On the financing structure of Germany's Mittelstand," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 106, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  13. Heidorn, Thomas & Siragusano, Tindaro, 2004. "Die Anwendbarkeit der Behavioral Finance im Devisenmarkt," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 52, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  14. Christina E. Bannier, 2010. "Is there a Holdup Benefit in Heterogeneous Multiple Bank Financing?," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 166(4), pages 641-661, December.
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  17. Bannier, Christina E. & Müsch, Stefan, 2008. "Die Auswirkungen der Subprime-Krise auf den deutschen LBO-Markt für Small- und MidCaps," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 103, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
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  20. Wollersheim, Jutta & Barthel, Erich, 2008. "Kulturunterschiede bei Mergers & Acquisitions: Entwicklung eines Konzeptes zur Durchführung einer Cultural Due Diligence," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 94, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
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