Revisiting Hanyeping Company (1889–1908): A case study of China's early industrialisation and corporate history

This paper examines China's first modern industrial cartel, the Hanyeping Company, to understand China's early industrialisation and corporate history. From a firm-specific perspective, this pioneer trial by the Chinese scholar-bureaucrat elites turned out a failure largely because the firm failed to establish effective corporate governance. The archival evidence indicates that its institutional deficiency was also closely correlated with the over-stressing of the role of elites. The state-led pattern and top-down approach taken by those elites can also help explain its evolution. The lessons from this case study are useful for China's ongoing transitions today.