From Control to Ownership: China’s Managerial Revolution
Over the past decade, the ownership and control of China's corporate sector has finally begun to depart fundamentally from patterns typical in the socialist past. Students of corporate governance have watched these changes with an intense curiosity about their impact on firm performance. Students of comparative economic institutions have examined them for hints of a new variety of Asian capitalism and have sought to anticipate China's international competitiveness and impact. But these changes potentially will create a new corporate elite with greater compensation, personal wealth, and independence from government agencies than ever before. This transformation of China's political economy may eventually alter the Chinese state itself, although the extent and nature of this change are still far from clear. The key questions of interest are the social origins of the new elite, the scale of the economic assets they control, and especially their continuing relationships with party and government agencies. The answers will vary decisively by sector, four of which are described here: a state-owned sector, a privatized sector, a transactional sector, and an entrepreneurial sector. The evolving mix of these sectors will determine the future contours of the Chinese corporate economy.