Abstract: Changes and Continuities: The Technological and Institutional Development of a Privatized State-owned Enterprise in Late Qing China

Juanjuan Peng

Abstract

This paper searches for the self-strengthening legacy by examining the changes and continuities within a self-strengthening enterprise (<em>yangwu qiye</em>), the Hubei Textile Bureau, after it was privatized during the late Qing privatization movement. Focusing particularly on the technological and institutional aspects of the business, the paper argues that the technological foundation of this business enterprise was built under the official management, while its founders had big plans and invested a handsome amount in cutting-edge technology. At the same time, the subsequent merchant-managers contributed to the business development in their institutional innovations, including the establishment of direct company control over the workforce and a general accounting office whose function was extended to interfirm coordination. Together, these developments helped to give rise to a dynamic private industrial enterprise in republican-era China.