The impact of the post-1993 economic reforms on Chinese state-owned enterprises
: evidence from the electronics industry

  • Yinfang Zhang

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Since 1979, China has embarked on a series of economic reform programmes, leading its socialist economy away from a Soviet planning model towards a much greater reliance on the market. In the course of the last twenty years, the Chinese economy has enjoyed a phenomenally high economic growth rate. However, earlier research suggests that Chinese state-owned enterprises remain a financial 'black hole' for the Chinese economy, in spite of various enterprise reform measures.
This thesis tries to assess the impact of the reforms after 1993, especially the so-called Modern Enterprise System, on the behaviour and management practices of state firms. The central research question is whether the new rounds of economic reform have changed state firms into commercial entities operating according to market signals, as intended. In order to explore this question, an institutional approach is employed. More specifically, the thesis examines how the behaviour and management practices of state enterprises have changed with changes in the institutional environmental resulting from the introduction of new reform measures and especially the MES.
The main evidence used in this research comes from the Chinese electronics industry (CEI). Non-state firms, namely collectives and joint ventures, are involved in the study to provide a benchmark against which changes in the behaviour of state firms in the mid and late 1990s are compared. A comparative statistical analysis shows that state-owned firms, both traditional and corporatised ones, still lag behind collectives and joint ventures in terms of both labour and total factor productivity. The further empirical work of this research consists of a questionnaire survey and case studies that are based on interviews with senior managers of 17 firms in the CEI. The findings of these analyses suggest that there has been little fundamental change in the behaviour pattern of state firms in the 1990s, despite the introduction of the Modern Enterprise System, and that the economic reforms after 1993 so far seem to have failed to transform the state firms into commercial entities operating according to market signals.
Date of AwardMay 2002
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid Parker (Supervisor)


  • ownership
  • institutiona environment
  • SOE's
  • China
  • enterprise behaviour

Cite this