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Forging Reform in China: The Fate of State-Owned Industry (Cambridge Modern China Series) Paperback – January 13, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Modern China Series
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521778611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521778619
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,349,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An empirically pathbreaking, wise, and conceptually innovative study of China's contemporary political economy. Three detailed case studies of state-owned enterprises and a probing discussion of township industries vividly illuminate the real impediments to a successful transition to a market economy. This book challenges several widely held views about China and takes the theoretical literature into new terrain. Must reading for both academics and practitioners." Michel Oksenberg, Asia/Pacific Research Center, Stanford University

"While there has been widespread speculation about how the huge inefficient state-owned enterprises are a major problem for China's economic reforms, in Forging Reform in China, Edward Steinfeld provides the world with the first in-depth, micro-level analysis of how horrendous the problem really is. He lucidly explains the tangled mess of the SEOs and China's vulnerable banking system. All how are concerned with China's economic future should take seriously Steinfeld's warning that, 'The state sector is not just dying, but also threatening to drag down the nation's entire economy along with it." Lucian Pye, Ford Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, MIT

"This penetrating, pioneering analysis of several large Chinese steel companies, offers an inside account of the enormous problems of China's state enterprises. Ed Steinfeld shows the logic of how state enterprises that 'show profits' and pay taxes have remained inefficient despite reforms. Ezra Vogel, Harvard University

"Steinfeld gained extraordinary access to three major Chinese steel corporations: Anshan, Capital Iron and Steel, and Ma'anshan. In this book he not only lays out the extraordinary stories of these firms during the reform era but also deftly develops the larger lessons of his tale. Those lessons could not be more timely. China is now seeking to reform its SOE sector through major changes in property rights and related shifts in employment terms and levels. Steinfeld argues powerfully that this will not work in the absence of even more important changes in the regulatory environment and in the state itself. Forging Reform in China sets new and important criteria for judging the fate of China's SOE reform effort, and it does so in vivid, concrete terms." Kenneth Lieberthal, University of Michigan

"Mr. Steinfeld's description of the problem is concise and coherent." Hugo Restall, Wall Street Journal

"Benefiting from remarkable access to three mammoth stell corporations, Steinfeld illustrates how the managers, confronted with an array of irrational constraints, make decisions that are logical from their perspective but disastrous for the economy. Steinfeld's report is ground-breaking for all who have an interest in the Chinese economy." Foreign Affairs

"...an enormously impressive and valuable piece of work.... The case studies are the most complete, detailed and nuanced examinations of these firms in English to date, besides being lucidly and entertainingly written, and worth the cover price in themselves." Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, The Times Higher

"...an ambitious attempt to explain the failure of state sector reform in China. The study is well thought out, deals with a broad range of literature, and utilizes case studies." Education about Asia

Book Description

The greatest economic challenge facing China in the post-Deng era is the reform of unprofitable, state-owned enterprises that have never truly been forced to face the pressure of a bottom line or the threat of bankruptcy. Forging Reform in China explains how and why well-intentioned, market-oriented reform measures have not been sweepingly successful to date, and what it would take to achieve meaningful reform. This book makes a compelling argument that private ownership cannot work in China's current system until governance over complex economic actors has been established, that is, until credit is tightened and market selection processes made to work.

More About the Author

Edward S. Steinfeld is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Director of the MIT-China Program.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The author presents a different perspective on China's state owned enterprise problem. He contends that the problem is not an allocation of property rights issue. Instead, a supposed free market system has been overlaid over a still partially existing command economy. A fascinating theory. If the author is right, China's problems are very deep and will be extremely difficult to solve.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Night Biggerstaff on July 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is based on research on the Chinese steel industry conducted in the mid-1990s. There's some good info in here, but the author misses some pretty obvious points. You could ascribe this to ideological blinders (I'm thinking of his statement that corporate governance mechanisms "are absolutely essential for getting firms to respond to the price signals of the free market") or perhaps it's just a misplaced sense of disinterest. The most glaring omission is asset stripping. It has been well documented that asset stripping and associated corruption was behind most SOE problems during the period in question. The words "asset stripping" never appear in this book (although the author does admit that "uncoordinated agencies of the state... extract profits from the firm" but he doesn't really go into how this happens). And for some strange reason the author goes easy on Zhou Guanwu's son, admitting only that "something strange had happened." I mean, the guy was given a suspended death sentence, clearly he wasn't just misusing company stationary. My favorite bit, though, is the conclusion: "Perhaps this is not a country that can or should be purchasing airplanes, automobiles, power plants, and heavy machinery in great quantity..." Oops!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ricky on July 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I remember one of my professors had said to me: "If you only read one book about SOE reform in China, you must read this one."
His recommendation cannot be more correct. The writer has undergone an in-depth investigation of SOEs and their reform in China. The three case studies, namely, Angang, Magang and Shougang, are all very comprehensive. For anyone interested in corporatization of these SOEs, Chapter 5 is a must-read for them. In all, the book is a tremendous achievement when you consider that the writer is a Westerner.
The writer thinks that the illness of SOEs is due to the continuous supply of soft budget from the government and state-owned bankers. The ownership issue - whether these enterprises are state-owned or in private hand - is not very important. However, my opinion is that you must not be a player when you also assume the role of referee. If this reform is to be successful, a detachment to government is necessary.
Anyway, this is an excellent book.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
The author focuses on one industry (steel) and a small number of firms. There are some good points in the book, but overall it suffers from a biased sample because the author hasn't studied the successful management experiences of Handan and its derivatives.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Steinfeld displays an uncommon ability to view today's China in a fresh light, unbound by the constraints of conventional Western thinking. Highly recommended for anyone seeking to understand modern Chinese economic development and the elusive prospects for China's full participation as a world economic leader.
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