«Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades des Fachbereichs Wirtschaftswissenschaften der Johann-Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am ...»
However, VoC and similar modern comparative approaches share the search for insights to the ―dynamics and contradictions‖ of Capitalism.1575 Other approaches for describing a specific type of Capitalism are the concepts of economic order and style, which also can be interpreted as geographical variations of a particular economic spirit. The method of spatially comparing different economic systems is not new, but has already been tried in previous centuries when different nations were compared according to the mode of economic activity, the structure of society and the form of government.1576 In general, economic systems are influenced by their cultural norms, which can also explain non-economic factors in their composition.1577 In particular, the economic style approach describes cultural transformation over time and its causall link to economic transformation, not just how specific cultures transform an economic system in a particular way.1578 In contrast, Eucken argued that analysis of Capitalism is necessarily imprecise and vague since Capitalism is itself a formless concept. However, Eucken‘s proposition of economic orders is only able to describe static systems and not the transformation from plan to market. It also fails to explain the emergence and development of institutions. Although Wilson, 2007, p. 253f.
McNally, 2007a, p. 178.
Schefold, 2009, p. 17.
Gottschalk and Broyer, 2004, p. 63.
Schefold, 1995, p. 222f.
Eucken‘s dichotomous concept of economic orders has been expanded and refined, nor do these more recent approaches succeed in describing institutional change. Yet Eucken and the theory of orders, and his conception of ideal-types, paved the way for more modern approaches to comparative analyses of economic systems. In this regard it is not so far away from the VoC-approach, except that the types of this theoretical framework are defined according to a different set of characteristics.1579 Economic styles are instead not static, but dynamic in nature, which also means that style changes can be analyzed. Whereas the system approach is better suited for broad description of epochs, but less suited to describe the qualitative change of an economy, since it is more abstract and general, seeking the unvarying element of a basic structure; the style concept by contrast can be applied to specific variations of the system. Defining a new economic style requires the interaction of various disciplines, such as sociology, political studies, history and economics.1580 This concept enables the analysis of an economic system more holistically. However, implying that a certain era is connected to a certain economic spirit does not mean that the economic actors were necessarily aware of their own orientation. An economic style indicates the transformation of an economy by describing the change of economic thought, it does so, however, more from a long-term perspective.
On the other hand, a style can also aim at different eras and indicates various systems within them. It is a concept that is both highly subjective and employs relativism in creating a painting, rather than a photograph, of an economic era.1581 Following Arthur Spiethoff an economic style can be characterized by economic spirit, natural endowment and technology, economic and social constitution and economic dynamism. It has been made clear throughout this work that China commands a very distinct set of all of these characteristics. However, this dissertation attributes the most weight to economic spirit, since it has a strong influence on the structure of an economic system and thus on creating a specific type of Capitalism. This dissertation is hesitant to claim that this type can serve as an ideal-type, but that it is sufficient in describing the real-type of Chinese Capitalism. According to Salin, the difficulty of distinguishing between real and ideal-types can be overcome by calling a type a ‗model‘ instead.1582 Streeck also argues that although ―Capitalism as a social order…may be an ‗ideal type‘,… it cannot be an ideal‖. He adds that ―[s]trictly speaking, it is a utopia, since it cannot exist outside of nonGottschalk and Broyer, 2004, p. 51-54, 60, Eucken, 1947, p. 14f.
Schefold, 1994c, p. 69f., Schefold, 1994b, p. 26.
Schefold, 1995, p. 237, 245f., Schefold, 1994d, S. 81 Salin, 1967, p. 186.
capitalist modes of social organization even though it continuously strives to emancipate itself from them and in fact is destructive of them. While the reality of Capitalism is always mixed, the mix is far from stable and indeed always explosive. Although its internal logic of growth makes Capitalism attempt to reorganize all social relations in its image – ‗subsume‘ them under the ‗laws of capitalist accumulation‘ – it can do so only at its own peril. ‗Really existing Capitalism‘ depends on its being embedded in two kinds of noncapitalist social orders which it nevertheless permanently erodes: remnants of cultural traditionalism that are being undermined by institutionalized cynicism, and modern institutions of social regulation and reconstruction created by political countermovements against the marketization of society‖. He calls that the contradiction of Capitalism.1583 However, in creating types, the concept of the economic style can be said to be methodically not far away from the notion of the holistic pattern model. Whereas the first concentrates more on past and present, searching for underlying fundamentals that often can be better detected with (spatio)temporal distance, the pattern models focuses more on continuous updates, therefore on the immediate present, and seeks maximal closeness to its subject of analysis. Of course they differ conceptually and methodologically, but both concentrate rather on qualitative rather than quantitative elements, and so can nevertheless reveal a rather accurate painting of the Chinese economic system in taking also social, political and cultural influences in account – without neglecting its development and transformation. These theoretical approaches can be enhanced by the instruments of institutional change that argue that ―the institutionalized order of Capitalism…is a historical order, i.e.
one that is continuously changing because it is inherently unstable and precarious‖.1584 Hence, even if scholars like Eucken dismissed the economic style as incapable of describing the reality of economic activities and processes and sought to construct real-types instead of ideal-types, this dissertation regards the notion of economic styles to be particularly appealing for constructing types of Capitalism because of its capacity to describe the character, and therefore the reality, of an economy.
For some time now China-related research has used the concept of path-dependent and path-defining processes of institutional change and development. In the case of China, this is neither a gradual nor a radical procedure, but rather a very pragmatic one. It does not aim to replace one institutional setting by another; it rather initiates a process of institutional change by layering and converting of institutions, as in the development of legislaStreeck, 2010a, p. 25f.
Streeck, 2010a,p. 25.
tion for the private sector in China. The Chinese transformation is not founded upon the remnants of socialist institutions; instead the party-state uses the legacy of the bureaucratic planned economy to produce a capitalist system with Chinese characteristics.1585 China‘s fragmented authoritarianism in which ―the vertical bureaucratic entities are structurally prone to conflict with horizontal levels of territorial-based governmental administration‖ employed a ―protracted, disjointed, and incremental‖ approach to transformation.1586 In contrast to the mainstream view that informal institutions explain the gap between intended and unintended institutional outcomes, and are thus responsible for the malfunctioning of formal institutions, the approach to institutional change originating with Thelen claims that adaptive informal institutions merely extend the boundaries of formal institutions, and explore new patterns of behavior that ex ante have not been foreseen. They thus manage to survive for some time, although mainly in semi-legal gray areas. As the case of China has shown, this process of gradual institutional change, often consisting of responses by the central government to local developments, can also take place in an authoritarian regime where reactions of this kind are rather unexpected. In China, adaptive institutions are particularly prominent ―where some local political and economic actors face incentives to promote private sector development but where formal institutions at the national level lag in adjusting to new businesses and their associated externalities‖.1587 It also emphasizes the specific role of the central state in its interaction with local actors, hence the local government and in turn of local officials with private entrepreneurs. However, when the CCP regards informal practices as endangering social stability, or as questioning the political system at large, it officially censors those institutions. Still, adaptive informal institutions eased developments that led to a gradual legalization of the private sector. The case of ‗red capitalists‘ and the use of Guanxi helped to integrate private entrepreneurs into the party, and hence towards political and societal acceptance. Informal practices were also a way for political actors to allow for changes without having to abandon ideological issues entirely, but enabled them to bend the meaning of formal rules pragmatically.1588 Some scholars also conceive the Chinese transformation and development process as displacement, whereas others argue convincingly for a process of layering and conversion.
All these concepts seem to fit to the Chinese transition towards Capitalism and hence indicate the complexity and multi-causality of the process. It also proves that even the most ten Brink, 2010, p. 6f.
Tsai, 2006a, p. 121.
Tsai, 2006a, p. 124, 127, 140.
Tsai, 2006a, p. 126-128.
extreme and remarkable changes in institutions and incentive structures may happen gradually by the interaction of complementary institutions.1589 Also the notion of Ellerman‘s parallel experimentation can explain this process of institutional change.1590 Ellerman defines parallel experimentation as a ―process of multiple experiments running concurrently with some form of common goal, with some semiisolation between the experiments, with benchmarking comparisons made between the experiments, and with the ‗migration‘ of discoveries between experiments wherever possible to ratchet up the performance of the group. The thesis is that parallel experimentation is a fundamental dynamic efficiency scheme to enhance and accelerate variation, innovation, and learning in contexts of genuine uncertainty or known ignorance‖.1591 This describes the pragmatic, although mostly implicit, policies and policy changes of the central government, most clearly visible in the development of laws concerning the private sector, accompanied by amendments of the constitution and finally the admission of private entrepreneurs into the CCP. As has been outlined in the chapters on Wenzhou and jurisdiction, many regulations were actually ex-post approvals of local facts. The example of the ‗red hat‘ entrepreneurs reveals that adaptive informal institutions added to the conversion of a formal regulation, namely the collective registration status. The red hat practice added a new form of collective enterprise and by that extended the institutional space of private firms. It led to the advancement of more market-oriented institutions that competed against the existing state-controlled institutional system which, over time, dissolved in favor of the new institutional arrangement.1592 It can thus be interpreted as a new institutional layer of corporate organizational type that did not displace the collective sector. It generated a politically acceptable justification for establishing a more transparent registration status for private enterprises. The informal interaction of local economic and political actors created a new institutional reality that forced the central party to adjust the existing formal regulations to incorporate those informal, but successful, practices. This dynamic process accumulated in revisions of the Chinese constitution and legislative system that, over time, resulted in an increasingly beneficial environment for the private sector.1593 As has also been emphasized throughout this work, the private sector, and hence private entrepreneurs together with their networks, are the driving force of (capitalist) developWhiting, 2001, p. 299.
Ellerman, 2010, Ellerman, 2004.
Ellerman, 2004, p. 1.
Mahoney and Thelen, 2010, p. 20.
Tsai, 2006a, p. 131, 135.
ment in China. (Institutional) changes of this sector (including falsely registered enterprises) have repercussions upon the state sector and hence upon the system as a whole. Guanxi networks are the most important instrument for private entrepreneurs and hence for the private sector, but it also exists in all other spheres and sectors throughout China. The development of Guanxi Capitalism is thus driven by the private sector and is virtually independent of the institutional framework built up by the central government. Although the legal environment especially is more and more equal to Western institutional structures, it is still only complementary to specific Chinese institutions. Informal practices in the form of layers and conversion amalgamate more Western-oriented institutions to fit a unique Chinese economic system.