Date of Award

August 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Shale Horowitz

Committee Members

Shale Horowitz, Steve Redd, Ora John Reuter, Natasha Borges Sugiyama


This dissertation discusses the effects of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) formal personnel management and informal politics on Chinese reform and development. It argues that the CCP’s informal politics can help to improve China’s economic reform performance. In the absence of strong rule-of-law institutions to sustain the market economy, the CCP’s organizational resources enable the supreme leaders to control their political factions. The CCP’s supreme leaders thus can induce non-public investors to follow the party’s economic development goals. Thus, the CCP’s informal politics may not result primarily in inefficiency or chaos. Instead, it may be a driving force for informal cooperation between the party officials and private entrepreneurs, which makes well-connected provinces especially attractive destinations for private investment. Quantitative research methods are applied to conduct several original empirical studies. The first study analyzes how the party’s top leaders control provincial personnel through factions. It shows that the CCP’s supreme leaders still dominate personnel management at the highest levels of China’s party-state. The second study analyzes the relationship between factional politics and the growth rate of domestic non-public investment. Analysis of provincial-level panel data from 1993 to 2017 shows that shared working experiences between provincial leaders and the CCP’s incumbent supreme leader significantly increase the growth rate of private investment. The third part further illustrates the impacts of such factions on the regional distribution of foreign direct investment (FDI). Empirical evidence shows that provincial leaders’ personal connections with the CCP’s incumbent general secretary had positive and statistically significant effects on the annual growth rate of provincial FDI inflows. These effects were more salient in inland provinces and during the Xi Jinping era. Overall, this research shows the importance of informal politics in promoting China’s economic reform and prosperity. Although informal politics may contribute to sub-optimal distribution of economic resources, it may also compensate for the weaknesses of Chinese formal legal system in promoting the non-public economy.

Available for download on Monday, September 02, 2024