Urban governance and state entrepreneurialism

Key reference

Fulong Wu. 2020. The state acts through the market: ‘state entrepreneurialism’ beyond varieties of urban entrepreneurialism. Dialogue in Human Geography 10(3) 326–329. [full paper in pdf]

Abstract. This commentary reflects on varieties of urban entrepreneurialism and rethinks its application to China. I argue that the state is proactively using market instruments for more strategic and developmental objectives in China. Characterized by ‘planning centrality, market instruments’, state entrepreneurialism manifests a different state–market relation: the state acts through the market rather than just being market friendly. In the post-crisis West, it is claimed that urban entrepreneurialism mutates into a financialized value extraction machine. Similarly, state entrepreneurialism reveals the usefulness but also the limits of the concept of urban entrepreneurialism. State entrepreneurialism adds a new narrative to the current description of governance changes associated with financialization and market operations.

Fulong Wu. 2018. Planning centrality, market instruments: governing Chinese urban transformation under state entrepreneurialism. Urban Studies 55(7):1383–99. [full paper in pdf]

Abstract. This article defines the key parameters of ‘state entrepreneurialism’ as a governance form that combines planning centrality and market instruments, and interprets how these two seemingly contradictory tendencies are made coherent in the political economic structures of post-reform China. Through examining urban regeneration programmes (in particular ‘three olds regeneration’, sanjiu gaizao), the development of suburban new towns and the reconstruction of the countryside, the article details institutional configurations that make the Chinese case different from a neoliberal growth machine. The contradiction of these tendencies gives room to urban residents and migrants to develop their agencies and their own spaces, and creates informalities in Chinese urban transformation.

Fulong Wu. 2017. State entrepreneurialism in urban China: A critique of the neoliberal city. In G. Pinson and C. M. Journel (eds.) Debating the Neoliberal City (pp. 153-173). Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge. [download pdf here]

Abstract. This chapter aims to understand China’s specific development regime through reviewing the origin of market-oriented reform and its pathway, through which a new space of accumulation has been created. The Chinese characteristics are not idiosyncratic practices resulting from an authoritarian state. The understanding of “state entrepreneurialism” has two pivotal premises: commodification and monopolization. The change in China is not a post-Keynesian shift but rather the creation of market means to expand the space of accumulation. The study of state entrepreneurialism is thus different from that of governmentality, because attention is not paid to individualization, market choices and the market itself but rather to how these choices are structurally conditioned and made. Market-oriented reform in China did not originate in an ideological shift. The policy of marketization and an open door to the global economy was adopted to create a new space of accumulation. The regime of accumulation under state socialism was based on state ownership of production factors.