Victor Nee and Sonja Opper: Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change in China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012. 431 pp. $45.00, hardcover.
Capitalism from Below is a stunning book. Much of what we have learned about business in China, especially from business-school cases, is based on the experience of state-owned and state-controlled enterprises, among which are the oldest and largest businesses in China. The private sector has been less accessible partly because non-state firms are smaller and more evanescent than state enterprises, and partly because entrepreneurs have had to operate at the margins of society, often out of sight and rarely willing to disclose the full extent of their assets or anything else significant about their businesses. To be sure, the Chinese constitution has protected domestic private property since 2007. Still, the super-wealthy whose names appear in the annual Hurun ‘‘rich list’’ remain far more likely to be investigated or arrested than entrepreneurs whose wealth Hurun has been unable to discover.