Governing through the market: SASAC and the resurgence of central state-owned enterprises in China

Chen, Zhiting (2018). Governing through the market: SASAC and the resurgence of central state-owned enterprises in China. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis argues that the Chinese political economy is best understood as a hybrid form of governance in the context of a differentiated developmental state. This argument is developed through an analysis of China’s central state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and in particular the complex relationship between central SOEs and the ministerial institution created by the Chinese state to oversee them, the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). Central SOEs have experienced a significant rise and expansion under the SASAC’s leadership since 2003. However, the state’s role in the promotion of this institutionalisation process is rarely explored. This research starts with a theoretical investigation of the developmental state. It then explores principal-agent relations among the central SOEs, the SASAC and the market. After this, the research moves to an empirical analysis that provides a detailed examination of the SASAC, a competitive central SOE – the China National Building Material Group Corporation (CNBM) – and a monopolistic central SOE – the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). Based on government policy papers, company annual reports, financial disclosures, and semi-structured interviews with more than 30 SASAC officials, SOE senior managers and government research staff, the conclusion reached is that the SASAC’s management of central SOEs follows a developmental state path, partially adopting market forces and market competition while rejecting neoliberal ideology. Ultimately, this research suggests that the Chinese central state’s practice of “governing through the market” is a strategy that benefits both the state and the central SOEs: the state can strengthen its principal’s control more effectively, whilst the enterprises can function as market actors to increase their competitiveness and profitability.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
J Political Science > JX International law


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