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The tentative leap forward : reforms and experiments in basic level Chinese industrial management policies, 1977-1979 Parrish, Geoffrey Leal


This thesis addresses two major topics. The first is the changes in national policy concerning basic level industrial management which accompanied the change in political leadership in the People's Republic of China after the death of Mao Zedong. This paper examines the nature and extent of such policy changes at a national level during the period 1977-1979. Secondly, this paper seeks to identify basic level industrial management policies formulated at a sub-national (generally provincial) level which differed in either timing or policy content from those being promoted nationally. The primary source of reference material for this thesis is the compilations of transcriptions of national, provincial, and local radio broadcasts and announced periodical articles published by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Approximately 750 daily reports published during the years 1977-1979 were examined in order to compile both accounts of relevant policy changes at the national level and discrepancies among policy descriptions and developments at the provincial and local levels. These materials were supplemented by numerous articles by outside observers, in order to provide additional information and a broader perspective than that offered by the Chinese government-originated material. The paper identifies two distinct categories - organizational reforms and the reintroduction of material incentives - of major changes in the policies of management of individuals, collectives, and industries during this period, in order to improve productivity. Details of the evolution of these policies and their presentation in the Chinese media are given. The paper then examines variations in these policies among different provinces and areas, and identifies three areas - Sichuan province, Guangdong province, and the major cities of Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin - where reforms tended to be more progressive than in the country at large and might serve as models or experiments in new policies being considered for national adoption. Finally, managerial policies promulgated during this time are reviewed and analyzed for their ability to meet the needs of the rapid industrialization desired by Chinese leadership. Three potential difficulties are identified: the political opposition of some factions to new or broader reforms; problems in the reconciliation of a greater role for market forces with the needs of a centralized, planned economy; and the difficulty in adapting or revising the present strategy to accommodate changing or unexpected circumstances.

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