Journal Article

Disembedding Socialist Firms as a Statist Project: Restructuring the Chinese Oil Industry, 1997–2002

Kun-Chin Lin

in Enterprise & Society: The International Journal of Business History

Published on behalf of Business History Conference

Volume 7, issue 1, pages 59-97
Published in print March 2006 | ISSN: 1467-2227
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1467-2235 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/es/khj001
Disembedding Socialist Firms as a Statist Project: Restructuring the Chinese Oil Industry, 1997–2002

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Crucial to the success of China’s transition to the market economy is the central government’s capacity for institutional innovation. Since 1997, Chinese politicians have sought to transform the governance of state-owned industries from decentralized administrator control to centralized corporate shareholder control. This essay examines the ideological, political, and institutional components of the central state’s strategy of “disembeddedness” that aimed to disrupt preexisting social norms and exchange relations of the planned economy. However, this authoritarian approach to organizational change has generated sociopolitical contentions and unintended economic outcomes that point to alternative conceptions of authority and exchange relations at industrial and firm levels. Focusing on the recent restructuring of the oil and petrochemical sectors into national oil corporations, I provide evidence of how certain types of informal social dynamics have shaped and constrained the implementation of asset control strategies and industrial policies favored by the state, with direct implications for the proper functioning of new market institutions.

Journal Article.  16056 words. 

Subjects: Business History

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