China Research Seminar public talk

April 24, 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Moore Hall 109

Announcing a Chinese Studies public talk “When Do the Last Become First? Institutional Complexity and the Rise of Underdogs during China’s Market Transition”

by Le Lin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, UH Mānoa

Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 12:00 pm, Moore Hall 109, 1890 East-West Rd, UHM

Abstract: Reconstructing detailed practices of eight Chinese education and training organizations (ETOs) from early 1980s to 2010s with interviews, archives and observational data, this article rethinks prevailing market transition arguments--firms that build solid ties with the state or that are compliant with cooperation norms are likely to become market leaders. Across the education and training industry (ETI) and other industries that used to be the extension of the socialist public goods, underdog organizations whose founders were marginalized by the state and whose practices were noncompliant with regulations and norms became leaders and their leadership has been sustained. I argue that multi-dimensional institutional complexity, especially where it is unclear whether organizations therein are private or non-private and whether they are for-profit or not-for-profit, provides the social condition for the last to become the first. Specifically, noncompliant practices drawn from the informal economy not only help underdog organizations secure key resources, but the institutionally complex condition unintentionally turned state regulations against noncompliance into advantages of underdogs. This article proposes the impact of competing models’ differentiated accesses to the social sources of the institutional complexity on the inter-model competition as a new mechanism of change under institutional complexity. The way the ETI turned into a private and for-profit industry also represents a novel bottom-up trajectory for the rise of China’s private sector.

Bio: Le Lin is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. He is interested in economic and organizational sociology, professions, education and medical sociology, with a special focus on the economic and social change in contemporary China. Specifically, he studies how China’s market capitalism emerges, how it co-evolves with the state and how it shapes formerly socialist public goods such as education and medicine. His dissertation examines the privatization and marketization of China’s education and training industry. His papers have won several awards, including 2017 American Sociological Association (ASA) Section on Asia and Asian America Graduate Student Research Paper Award and 2016 Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) EHESS France-Japon Foundation Best Paper Award. He holds a B.A. from Zhejiang University, an M.A. from Columbia University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

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Ticket Information
Free admission

Event Sponsor
Center for Chinese Studies, Mānoa Campus

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