An institutional approach to changes in property rights within China in transition: change of property rights and ownership in high-tech spin-offs in the reform era

  • Yang Chen

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The aim of this research is to develop a thorough understanding of the change of ownership and property rights in the context of China in transition, with all the political and social implications that the process entails. This study aims both to understand and challenge the basic theoretical underpinnings of conventional property rights theory, to examine what the received wisdom of the private property rights perspective offers and to discover to what extent it is applicable in the Chinese transitional context. Through an extensive literature review, this research argues that the mainstream property-rights school fails to consider the institutional and organisational context of the societies in which economic institutions operate. This study evaluates the basic and most widely believed paradigm of institutional change - that of the Washington property rights school - and challenges it with empirical evidence. This study evaluates different models of institutional change and generates an original institutional approach to the change of property rights in the context of China-in-transition. Research for this PhD adopts an institutional methodological approach in an empirical study of the change of property rights and ownership of high-tech spin-off enterprises in China. This research is micro in approach providing a bird’s - eye view of the evolution of property rights and ownership of Chinese enterprises in the context of transition through multiple case studies of high-tech spin-offs. The research identifies the strong presence of the state associated with the evolution of high-tech spin-offs in transitional China, the process of which has also been characterised by fuzzy property rights and public entrepreneurship as two key stepping stones of development. The research findings indicate that the appropriate structure of property rights over productive assets is a dependent variable as opposed to an explanatory variable, as suggested by the property-rights school
Date of Award2004
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
  • University of Leicester
SupervisorRichard Sanders (Supervisor) & Peter Lawrence (Supervisor)

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