Bringing the managers in : A case of rising influence of enterprise managers in rural China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-164
Journal / PublicationIssues and Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000


Based on empirical findings in Shandong, this paper suggests that the advent of rural industrialization has contributed to the rising position of enterprise managers in rural China. Two worlds of enterprise managers are emerging. While mediocre managers are still under the administrative purview and blessing of the local governments, high performers have earned themselves greater operational autonomy, better rewards and status, and access to the policymaking process. The latter are serving as the engines of growth and are hence indispensable to the progress and development of the local economy. Their growing functional indispensability has provided them with leverage to pressurize local governments for concessions, both in enterprise ownership restructuring and political power sharing. Unlike the civil society scenario, the trajectory of this reconfiguration of local governance does not entail direct confrontation between state and society; instead, a symbiotic relationship is taking shape. The heterogeneity and particularistic nature of the state-manager relationship also warrant a look beyond the corporatist framework in conceptualizing the interaction. This case study shows that focus on this interconnection is the key to understanding transition politics in rural China.

Research Area(s)

  • Manager's autonomy, Rural governance, Rural industrialization, State-manager relationship, Transition politics