Title

Weak Law v. strong ties: An empirical study of business investment, law and political connections in China

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

3-2017

Abstract

Based on a large-scale survey of Chinese entrepreneurs, our study explores how legal and political institutions influence investment decisions made by private companies. The study finds that, consistent with the conventional view, a more effective legal system is correlated with short-term general investment, and that the judiciary is important mainly because of its restraint over the state. The role of effective courts, however, diminishes when private entrepreneurs consider making long-term investment. We find a positive association between the entrepreneurs' political backgrounds and their R&D investment, suggesting that Chinese courts, in spite of decades of reform, are not yet viewed as reliable to protect long-term private investment from expropriation, policy instability, and a hostile regulatory environment. Rather, informal political connections constitute the premise for the protection of long-term investment. We also find evidence indicating that political ties are expensive resources to accumulate and maintain, so Chinese entrepreneurs tap into them only when substantial long-term interests are at stake. The findings contribute to the literature on law and economic development.

Discipline

Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | Transnational Law

Research Areas

Law of Transnational Business

Publication

Review of Law and Economics

Volume

13

Issue

1

ISSN

1555-5879

Identifier

10.1515/rle-2014-0008

Publisher

De Gruyter

Additional URL

http://doi.org./10.1515/rle-2014-0008

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