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The Iron Law of Fiefs: Bureaucratic Failure and the Problem of Governance in the Chinese Economic Reforms

Max Boisot and John Child
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec., 1988), pp. 507-527
DOI: 10.2307/2392641
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2392641
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Iron Law of Fiefs: Bureaucratic Failure and the Problem of Governance in the Chinese Economic Reforms
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Abstract

This paper argues that the current markets and hierarchies framework of transaction-cost economics provides too limited a set of transactional options to account adequately for many of the organizational problems encountered in developing economies. Focusing on the codification and diffusion of information, it provides a set of concepts designed to extend the existing framework. Applying these concepts to an analysis of the economic reforms in the People's Republic of China since 1978, the paper identifies a form of bureaucratic failure that lies beyond the markets-hierarchies typology and that high-lights the important role played by culture and level of development in shaping transactional preferences.

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