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Who will keep an eye on government policy? Evidence from Chinese pharmaceutical firms

Ying Zheng (School of Economics and Management, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing, China)
Chuanming Chen (School of Business, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China)
Hualiang Ren (School of Business, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




Studies on China suggest that institutional environment plays a significant role in business activities; however, the issue of how firms attend to institutional environment is largely under-explored. This paper responds to the oversight by examining the potential ways in which firms can demonstrate heterogeneity in terms of vigilance to government policy. Drawing from the attention-based view of firms and the institutional logic perspective, the authors aim to propose that firms with market logic or non-market logic will show difference in vulnerability to policy change. Further, firm ownership type and policy-leveraging capability would moderate the relationship between institutional logic and attention to policy environment.


The empirical background of this study is based on Chinese pharmaceutical firms. The new reform on health-care system launched by Chinese government in 2009 provides a fertile context to observe firms’ attention to government policy. The hypotheses are tested by using data of 145 Chinese pharmaceutical public firms from 2009 to 2013.


The results generally support the hypotheses: market logic has a positive effect on attention to policy, whereas non-market logic has a negative effect. The impact of market logic is weakened when firms have a higher policy-leveraging capability (in terms of getting government subsidies); the non-market logic effect is strengthened both when firms are state-owned enterprises and have a higher policy-leveraging capability.


Instead of focusing on how institutional environment have an influence on firm behavior as previous studies do, this paper examines the interaction between institution and firms by exploring how firms pay attention to government policy. Under the context of China, this study sheds light on how institutional logic plays a role in determining cognitive resource allocation of firms.



This study is partially funded by Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. 2015JDZD11).


Zheng, Y., Chen, C. and Ren, H. (2017), "Who will keep an eye on government policy? Evidence from Chinese pharmaceutical firms", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 346-364.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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