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When informality meets formality: evidence from China

Kun (Michelle) Yang (Department of Management, Central Michigan University College of Business Administration, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA)
Michael J. Pisani (Department of Management, Central Michigan University College of Business Administration, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 24 January 2018

Issue publication date: 22 March 2018

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore “what impact does competition from informal enterprises have on formal firms” within the Chinese economic and business environment.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper opted for an exploratory study utilizing the cross-sectional survey data “2012 China Enterprise Survey” conducted by the World Bank. The survey is composed of approximately 200 business-related questions across the spectrum of business operations. In all, 2,700 privately owned Chinese firms are included in the logistic regression analysis.

Findings

Results show the impact of informal firm competition upon formal firms in China are influenced by geographical location, industry sector, ownership profile, governmental ownership, online presence and the extent of obeying labor regulations or the time spent in handling the governmental regulatory environment. There is a competitive and complementary simultaneous intertwined relationship between formal and informal economy. It occurs in a formal economy not fully divorced from the structural inertia of the planned economy as it transitions to a market-based economy.

Practical implications

This paper extended the assumption of institutional theory and presented it as a dynamic view of the evolution of organizations. It contributes by offering a simultaneous dual relationship between the formal and informal economy. It also adds one more potential feature of populations in the population ecology theory.

Originality/value

This exploratory paper empirically examines the impacts of informal sector enterprises on formal sectors firms in China and proposes a dual force effect of the informal economy to the formal economy given the current Chinese institutional environment. The study also provides a platform for further research on the interactions between the formal and informal sectors in emerging markets.

Keywords

Citation

Yang, K.(M). and Pisani, M.J. (2018), "When informality meets formality: evidence from China", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 184-201. https://doi.org/10.1108/CMS-03-2017-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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