Organizational Clientelism: An Analysis of Private Entrepreneurs in Chinese Local Legislatures
Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 14, No.1, 2014
30 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2014
Date Written: December 1, 2013
Extant literature on authoritarian legislatures argues that dictators set up quasi-democratic institutions to co-opt opposition and attract investors. This study argues that dictators also nurture clientelistic ties with social groups useful to their rule, a previously overlooked function of authoritarian legislatures. Drawing on the case of Chinese local legislatures — namely, the local People’s Congress and the local People’s Political Consultative Conference — we find that Chinese local governments use these institutions to channel patronage to and gain political support from the private sector. Field Interviews and an analysis of a nationwide firm-level survey show that private firms owned by local legislative members, while obtaining more bank loans, provide more support to the local government in various forms than those owned by nonmembers. This finding suggests that authoritarian legislatures, even those with weak policymaking efficacy, can help authoritarian states build stable alliances with social groups, thereby contributing to regime resilience.
Keywords: local legislature, organizational clientelism, private firms, state-business relations, authoritarianism, China
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