☻ “The Political Mobility of China's Central State-owned Enterprise Leaders.” The China Quarterly (March 2018).
Extensive research on the political mobility of Chinese officials at central, provincial, municipal and county
levels has yet to fully consider an important group of elites – the leaders of China’s core central state
owned enterprises (SOEs). This paper presents the first systematic analysis of their political mobility
between 2003 and 2012 using an original biographical dataset with 864 leader-year observations. Under
the Hu Jintao administration, these leaders emerged as a distinctive group within China’s top political
elite: increasingly well-educated but lacking experience beyond state-owned industry, with both
lengthening leadership tenures and years of previous work in their companies. Instead of a “revolving
door” through which these individuals rotate routinely between state-owned business and the party-state
to positions of successively higher rank, a top executive posting was most often a “one-way exit” to
retirement. Of those who advanced politically, virtually all were transferred laterally along three career
pathways with little overlap: to other core central SOEs; provinces; and the centre. This paper
underscores the theoretical importance of disaggregating types of lateral transfer to research on Chinese
officials’ political mobility and the cadre management system.
☻ “Firm Control: Governing the State-owned Economy under Xi Jinping” (invited submission for special issue of
China Perspectives, 2018)
☻ “Mobilizing for Reform: Policy Experimentation and Implementation in China's State-owned Economy.”
☻ “Political Leadership and Economic Reform in a Chinese Central State-owned Enterprise.”
☻ “The Political Logic of Central State-owned Enterprise Mergers in China.”
☻ “From Contractors to Stakeholders? Chinese State-owned Companies and Overseas Infrastructure
☻ “Evolving Official Discourse on National Interest in China.”
( * For further information about any of these working papers, please contact me)
Economic Reform through Political Leadership in China's State-owned Economy
What explains variation in economic reform outcomes in China? ‘Strategic design’ accounts highlight state and Party officials’ deliberate and explicit choices about economic policies, institutions, organizational forms, and resource allocations. ‘Organic transformation’ accounts emphasize dynamic change in economic practices, organizations, and institutions resulting from interaction among actors in a decentralized context.
I link these accounts to propose an alternative explanation focused on the leaders of public sector organizations—such as heads of central-level commissions and top executives of central state-owned enterprises. These organizational leaders exercise influence through two main mechanisms: 1) by formulating organizational strategies; and 2) by altering organizational structure.
I assess organizational leaders’ impact on firm-level reform outcomes in China’s state-owned economy through: 1) statistical analysis using an original dataset of reform outcomes for all 189 centrally-owned Chinese enterprises between 2003 and 2015 (dependent variable: restructuring through mergers); 2) case study analysis of consecutive chairmanships in one of these firms, using data gathered through 15 months of participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and secondary sources.
In the concluding chapter, I identify and analyze four feedback loops--flows of personnel and information--which link change at the organization level with the broader evolution of the institution of state ownership in China: 1) political promotion of organizational leaders; 2) the center’s selection of a particular organization as a model for wide-scale emulation; 3) government-directed diffusion of successful experiences; and 4) informal sharing of successful and unsuccessful experiences between organizations and the center.