Chinese Economic History

Joining some pioneer studies on Chinese firms, this research compares China's experience with that of the West, and then rejects a unique Chinese pattern. As it shows in the story, Chinese entrepreneurs possessed the same entrepreneurs' instinct as their Western counterparts, and they would respond to similar problems related to new social, political, economic, and technological situations with some similar innovations in managerial arrangements. However, unlike some early studies, my dissertation suggests a linear path of institutional development of this particular enterprise. It is a path from small to big, from personal to contractual, and from traditional to modern.19 Eventually a "jituan" or Chinese business group appeared in 1940s with a multidivisional structure under the control of a central office. As my narrative will show, the creation of a "jituan" was a response to a series of business crises the enterprise faced in 1930s and 1940s. Many of institutional innovations started as an expedient arrangement targeting one temporary problem, and were maintained after the particular crisis was relieved. Ironically, this new business institution was hardly influenced by the newly-enforced Chinese company law or the efforts of early-twentieth-century reformers, two topics that have been well studied to understand China's modern business development.20 In fact, according to the company law, "jituan" was not even a legally recognized form of business organization. Again, entrepreneurship is emphasized as the main driving force for the institutional development of this industrial enterprise.

One point illustrates why history is critical:
After Deng Xiaoping's Southern tour of 1992, China started to promote a socialist market economy, in which the state-owned enterprises were gradually transformed into a revised version of Modern Corporation. To offer the theoretical guide for this new transition, Chinese scholars turned to look at the business practice both in the West and in the past. A considerable amount of studies on company history was produced during this period. One of the major agenda of these researches was to justify the reform policy by discovering the similar "capitalist" practices in indigenous Chinese businesses---so the new reform would appear ideologically more "Chinese" and less "capitalistic." In late 1990s, when the economic reform was deepened and the privatization movement has already started, economic historians in China had little ideological confusion left. Influenced by Chinese economists, who borrowed institutional economics from the West, they continued to study the history of Chinese enterprises but with a new interest in their institutional development.


No comments:

Post a Comment