Interpreting Enterprise, State, and Society: A Critical Review of the Literature in Modern Chinese Business History, 1978–2008

This article offers a critical review of literature in the area of modern Chinese business history from 1978 to 2008. It focuses on four interconnected topics: (1) the evolution of industrial capitalism, (2) the adoption of corporate hierarchies and/or social networks, (3) the change of financial institutions and monetary system, and (4) the development of state-owned industries and the formation of the (central) state enterprise system. The review reveals not only significant growth of the field of modern Chinese business history over the last three decades but also the existence of major gaps. The article concludes by considering the implications of its findings for understanding the political economy of business enterprises and enterprise systems in different national and historical contexts.