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A sociological view toward the economic and technological development zones in China

Zheng Joseph Yan (Department of Management and International Business, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Peter Zámborský (Department of Management and International Business, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Hongji Liang (Institute of Population and Labor Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 26 January 2021

Issue publication date: 17 June 2021

225

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to introduce a sociological view to analyze the Economic and Technological Development Zones (ETDZs) in China. The ETDZs are established to foster concentrated regional economic development. Currently, there are 219 national level ETDZs throughout the country, and they account for more than 10% of China’s total GDP. Given the scale of the Chinese economy, the economic significance of the ETDZs indicates an important phenomenon for better understanding.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper conceptualizes the Chinese ETDZs with sociology concepts of place, institutional logics and habitus.

Findings

The sociological view centers on how the ETDZs can naturally evolve with the participation of firms. The authors show that firms operating in the ETDZs can unintentionally alter the dynamics of the policy environment. A process model of place, logics and practice is developed to encapsulate these ideas.

Originality/value

Conventional research on the connections between Chinese Government policies and business operations has been largely conducted under a political economy view which outlines a top-down logic (policymaking, followed by firms’ strategic response). The authors move away from this dogma by introducing a sociological view of the ETDZs. This new view highlights that a government-initiated policy environment in China can also evolve when firms are seeking to blend into the regulatory system, instead of trying to shape the coercive arrangements to suit their best interests.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper has not been published previously and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere.

The corresponding author acknowledges the financial support by UOA FRDF, grant number 3720052.

Citation

Yan, Z.J., Zámborský, P. and Liang, H. (2021), "A sociological view toward the economic and technological development zones in China", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 598-612. https://doi.org/10.1108/CMS-04-2020-0140

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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