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Coordinating China's economic growth strategy via its government-controlled association for private firms

Zhenhuan Lei and Jeffrey B. Nugent

Journal of Comparative Economics, 2018, vol. 46, issue 4, 1273-1293

Abstract: Scholars in economics and political science argue that one major function of government is to overcome coordination failure in economic development, especially during times of rapid environmental changes. But, how and through what means does the state coordinate firms to follow the changing directions of its economic objectives? This paper focuses on the case of a government-controlled business association, namely the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC), and shows that the ACFIC may be serving, at least partially, as a means of avoiding the kind of coordination failures that are often associated with policy reform programs in authoritarian regimes like China when the government deems it necessary to radically and suddenly change its policy objectives. It does so by comparing the activities of firms that are members of ACFIC with non-members before and after the world financial crisis of 2008–09 which induced a significant change in government objectives. Before that crisis when priority in government objectives was “outward” (to stave off balance of payments crises that had befallen many other developing countries), ACFIC member firms were able to engage in exports and foreign investment to a greater extent than non-member firms, and even than those whose owners are members of the Congresses or Chinese Communist Party. After viewing the crises in international markets, and government objectives had turned more “inward”, ACFIC members were more likely to focus on domestic sales and investments.

Keywords: China; Business association; Political connection; Private firms; Export; Foreign investment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D23 L22 O53 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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