Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Diversities in unity: Engine of China's economic development
by Yang, Hongxing, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2009, 209; 3387050
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates the driving forces underlying the sustained high-speed economic development of reform-era China. To date scholars, who study economic development have tended to attribute the economic success of a nation to a particular incentive-shaping factor or mechanism, such as rich resource endowments, a well-balanced demographic structure, a decent primary and secondary educational system, a more egalitarian structure of society, a developmental culture, the strength and capacity of the state, the adoption of certain industrial policies, secure property rights, the rule of law and good governance, or the location of nation-state in an ideal position within the world system. By contrast, drawing upon a historical comparative analysis of the development of four counties in middle China, the present research finds that while these counties started with similar initial conditions during the pre-reform era, they all achieved economic prosperity through varying patterns and trajectories of development. The findings suggest that while some of the above-mentioned factors may indeed contribute to the economic success of some countries, an analysis employing such a "variable-based" or "mechanism-based" approach to the study of China's economic development will not take us very far. Instead, the present study argues that a multi-layer, multi-stage and multi-mechanism model of development should be applied to account for China's development. At the central state level, a defensive regime structure exhibiting performance-based legitimacy forced the central government – for the regime's survival – to adopt policies conducive to sustainable development. At the local state and society levels, China's development has relied on initiatives from local governments and social agents operating under generally development-conducive but very broad and thus vague state policies. In this environment, those who wanted to get rich as well as the local cadres were pressed to become development-oriented. This facilitated the rise of development-inducing competition and mutual learning at both the county and the provincial levels. However, the developmental models that local governments adopted at particular times, in conjunction with local conditions, produced unintended consequences and new opportunities, leading to the path-dependent emergence of multiple trajectories of development. It is, therefore, the convergences and differentiations among developmental strategies within a multi-layered competitive environment that provide the critical force behind the rise of a generally successful, highly energetic, but at the same time disorderly Chinese economy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Zhao, Dingxin, Parish, William
Commitee: Lee, Cheol-Sung, Parish, William, Zhao, Dingxin
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sociology, Social structure
Keywords: China, Economic development, Local state, New institutionalism, Performance-based legitimacy, Post-Mao China, Pseudo-market competition
Publication Number: 3387050
ISBN: 978-1-109-52910-4
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