Unfaithful Friends: Business in Authoritarian Asia



Meg Rithmire, F. Warren MacFarlan associate professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit

Date and Time

November 12, 2020 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM


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About this Event:  This book offers a novel theory of the nuances in relationships between business and political elites in three authoritarian regimes in developing Asia: Indonesia under Suharto’s New Order, Malaysia under the Barisan Nasional (BN), and China under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). How did business-state relations in all three regimes come to be seen as “crony,” and why do some crony arrangements generate growth and political stability and others stagnation or crisis? The book develops conceptual models of state-business relations (mutual alignment and mutual endangerment) and explains their genesis. I argue that the main factors explaining why one pattern dominates over the other are the political status of capitalists, determined during regime formation, and the political management of the financial system. The research draws on extensive archival and interview sources as well as novel datasets on corporate filings in each country.


Meg RithmereAbout the Speaker:  Meg Rithmire is F. Warren MacFarlan associate professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit. Professor Rithmire holds a PhD in Government from Harvard University, and her primary expertise is in the comparative political economy of development with a focus on China and Asia. Her first book, Land Bargains and Chinese Capitalism (Cambridge University Press, 2015), examines the role of land politics, urban governments, and local property rights regimes in the Chinese economic reforms. A new project, for which Meg conducted fieldwork in Asia 2016-2017, investigates the relationship between capital and the state and globalization in Asia. The project focuses on a comparison of China, Malaysia, and Indonesia from the early 1980s to the present. The research has two components; first, examining how governments attempt to discipline business and when those efforts succeed and, second, how business adapts to different methods of state control.