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How Reform Worked in ChinaThe Transition from Plan to Market$
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Yingyi Qian

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262534246

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262534246.001.0001

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Why China’s Economic Reforms Differ: The M-Form Hierarchy and Entry/Expansion of the Non-State Sector

Why China’s Economic Reforms Differ: The M-Form Hierarchy and Entry/Expansion of the Non-State Sector

Chapter:
(p.285) 10 Why China’s Economic Reforms Differ: The M-Form Hierarchy and Entry/Expansion of the Non-State Sector
Source:
How Reform Worked in China
Author(s):

Yingyi Qian

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262534246.003.0011

China’s thirteen years of economic reforms (1979-1991) have achieved an average GNP annual growth rate of 8.6%. What makes China’s reforms differ from those of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union is the sustained entry and expansion of the non-state sector. We argue that the organization structure of the economy matters. Unlike their unitary hierarchical structure based on functional or specialization principles (the U-form), China’s hierarchical economy has been the multi-layer-multi-regional one mainly based on territorial principle (the deep M-form, or briefly, the M-form). Reforms have further decentralized the M-form economy along regional lines, which provided flexibility and opportunities for carrying out regional experiments, for the rise of non-state enterprises, and for the emergence of markets. This is why China’s non-state sector share of industrial output increased from 22% in 1978 to 47% in 1991 and its private sector’s share from zero to about 10%, both being achieved without mass privatization and changes in the political system.

Keywords:   GNP, Economic reform, Hierarchical economy, M-form, U-form, Industrial output, Mass privatization

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