Bio


Jean C. Oi is the William Haas Professor on Chinese Politics in the department of political science and a Senior Fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. She is the founding director of the Stanford China Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. Professor Oi also is the founding Lee Shau Kee Director of the Stanford Center at Peking University.

A PhD in political science from the University of Michigan, Oi first taught at Lehigh University and later in the department of government at Harvard University before joining the Stanford faculty in 1997.

Her work focuses on comparative politics, with special expertise on China’s political economy and institutions in the process of reform. Fiscal politics and central-local relations in China are at the center of Oi’s research. Recent work delves inside local-level institutions to sheds new light on China’s authoritarian resilience by exploring how county governments through adaptive governance have been able to cope as the economy has grown exponentially and demands and needs from an increasingly complex society put more strains on resources and the political system. Most recently, she co-edited a volume that highlights the challenges China now faces after reaping record breaking growth the last 40 years by only tweaking the institutions that it inherited from the Mao period. Current leaders continue to kick the can down the road rather than tackle the most political difficult part of the reform process. Instead, leaders seems to be “going back to the future,” relying on a playbook not seen since the Mao period.

Current projects focus on growing local government debt in China and why there is so much when law prohibits localities from borrowing and budget deficits. Moving beyond her earlier work, Oi also has begun a project to empirically assess the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Oi takes an institutional and micro-level approach to identify the key players and their interests.

Academic Appointments


Administrative Appointments


  • Founding Lee Shau Kee Director, Stanford Center at Peking University (2012 - Present)
  • Founding Director, Stanford China Program (2007 - Present)
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford University, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (2006 - Present)
  • MBA Class of 1962 Visiting Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School (2005 - 2006)
  • William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics, Stanford University, Department of Political Science (2001 - Present)
  • Professor, Stanford University, Department of Political Science (2000 - Present)
  • Director, Stanford University, Center for East Asian Studies (1998 - 2005)
  • Guest Professor, Foundation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, Institute d’etudes Politiques de Paris, France (1998 - 1998)
  • Fellow, by Courtesy, Stanford University, Stanford Institute of International Studies (1997 - 2006)
  • Associate Professor, Stanford University, Department of Political Science (1997 - 2000)
  • Visiting Professor, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Division of Social Science (1995 - 1997)
  • Associate Professor, Harvard University, Department of Government (1987 - 1995)
  • Assistant Professor, Lehigh University, Department of Government (1983 - 1987)
  • Instructor, Lehigh University, Department of Government (1982 - 1983)

Honors & Awards


  • Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, in perpetuity, Stanford University (2015)
  • Anonymous Friends University Bass Fellow in Undergraduate Education, Stanford University (2005-2010, 2011-2015)
  • Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching, Stanford University (2004-2005)
  • Stanford Cap and Gown Honorary, Stanford University (2003)
  • William Haas Professorship on Chinese Politics, Stanford University (2001)
  • Outstanding Faculty Advisor, Stanford University (1999-2000)
  • Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine (1999)
  • Nina C. Crocker Faculty Scholar, Stanford University (1998-2001)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Fellowship Reviewer, National Academy of Science
  • Fellowship Reviewer, Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China
  • Fellowship Reviewer, American Council of Learned Societies
  • Fellowship Reviewer, Trinity College, Cambridge, England
  • Fellowship Reviewer, Research and Grants Committee of Hong Kong
  • Fellowship Reviewer, City University of New York Consortium on Political Science
  • Fellowship Reviewer, Hong Kong University Grant Council
  • Manuscript reviewer, Comparative Political Studies
  • Manuscript reviewer, Economic Development and Political Change
  • Manuscript reviewer, Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs
  • Manuscript reviewer, Cambridge University Press
  • Manuscript reviewer, Stanford Press
  • Manuscript reviewer, American Political Science Review
  • Manuscript reviewer, Harvard University Press
  • Manuscript reviewer, Politics and Society
  • Manuscript reviewer, Asian Survey
  • Manuscript reviewer, Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE)
  • Manuscript reviewer, Routledge Press
  • Manuscript reviewer, Rationality and Society
  • Manuscript reviewer, World Development
  • Manuscript reviewer, University of California Press
  • Manuscript reviewer, World Politics
  • Manuscript reviewer, Comparative Politics
  • Manuscript reviewer, Corruption and Reform
  • Manuscript reviewer, China Journal
  • Manuscript reviewer, China Quarterly
  • Manuscript reviewer, Environment and Planning A
  • Academic Advisory Council, Schwarzman Scholars Program (2014 - 2016)
  • Founding Director, Stanford Center at Peking University (2012 - Present)
  • Standing Review Board, Research Grants Council (RGC) under the U. Grants Committee Hong Kong (UGC) (2012 - Present)
  • Member, Administrative Panel on Human Subjects in Non-medical Research Committee, Stanford University (2011 - 2012)
  • Member, Administrative Panel on Human Subjects in Non-medical Research Committee, Stanford University (2010 - 2011)
  • Member, Administrative Panel on Human Subjects in Non-medical Research Committee, Stanford University (2008 - 2009)
  • Founding Director, Stanford China Program, Stanford University (2007 - Present)
  • Member, Administrative Panel on Human Subjects in Non-medical Research Committee, Stanford University (2007 - 2008)
  • Editorial Board, Asia Pacific Business Review (2005 - Present)
  • External Reader for Doctoral Dissertation, Australian National University (2005 - 2005)
  • Editorial Board, Asian Survey (2004 - Present)
  • Editorial Board, Asian Journal of Political Science (2004 - Present)
  • Member, Administrative Panel on Human Subjects in Non-medical Research Committee, Stanford University (2004 - 2005)
  • Member, Provost’s Faculty Steering Committee for the International Initiative, Stanford University (2003 - 2005)
  • Member, Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award Committee, American Political Science Association (2003 - 2003)
  • Faculty Advisor, Forum for Chinese/American Exchange at Stanford (FACES), Stanford University (2002 - Present)
  • Advisor, Stanford Project on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), Stanford University (2002 - 2007)
  • Member, Overseas Studies Advisory Board, Stanford University (2002 - 2004)
  • Chair, China Inner Asia Council, Association for Asian Studies (2002 - 2003)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Association for Asian Studies (2002 - 2003)
  • Member, East Asian Library, Stanford University (2002 - 2003)
  • Chair, Center for East Asian Studies, M.A. Admissions Committee, Stanford University (2002 - 2002)
  • Alternate Member, Administrative Panel on Human Subjects in Non-medical Research Committee, Stanford University (2001 - 2005)
  • Member, China Inner Asia Council, Association for Asian Studies: (2001 - 2003)
  • Convener, Department of Political Science, Comparative Politics Group, Stanford University (2001 - 2002)
  • Member, Department of Political Science, Policy and Personnel Committee, Stanford University (2001 - 2002)
  • Member, Nomination Committee, American Political Science Association (2001 - 2002)
  • Chair (at Stanford), Stanford-Berkeley Seminar, Stanford University (2000 - 2005)
  • Convener, Department of Political Science, Comparative Politics Group, Stanford University (2000 - 2001)
  • Member, Nomination Committee, American Political Science Association (2000 - 2001)
  • Member, Department of Political Science, Policy and Personnel Committee, Stanford University (2000 - 2001)
  • External Reader for Doctoral Dissertation, Australian National University (2000 - 2000)
  • Convener, Department of Political Science, Comparative Politics Group, Stanford University (1999 - 2000)
  • Director, Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford University (1998 - 2005)
  • Member, Committee on International Political Science, American Political Science Association (1998 - 2001)
  • Chair, Sage Paper Award Committee, American Political Science Association (1998 - 1999)
  • Co-Convener, Department of Political Science, Comparative Politics Group, Stanford University (1998 - 1999)
  • Member, Department of Political Science, Policy and Personnel Committee, Stanford University (1998 - 1999)
  • Chair, Contemporary China Seminar Series, Stanford University (1997 - 2005)
  • Co-Chair (at Stanford), Stanford-Berkeley Seminar, Stanford University (1997 - 2000)
  • Co-Convener, Department of Political Science, Comparative Politics Group, Stanford University (1997 - 1998)
  • Member, Millennium Committee, Stanford University (1997 - 1998)
  • Member, The China Quarterly, Editorial Board (1994 - 2009)
  • International Advisory Group Member for the State Council Leading Group on the Economic Development of Poor Areas, People Republic of China (1992 - 1992)
  • External Examiner for Master's Degree Examination, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (1991 - 1993)

Program Affiliations


  • Center for East Asian Studies
  • Program in International Relations

Professional Education


  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, Political Science (1983)
  • M.A., University of Michigan, Political Science (1975)
  • B.A., Indiana University, Political Science and East Asian Languages and Literatures (1971)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


Oi studies local governance in China, including the organization of rural communities and the provision of public goods. The center has created “new rural communities,” which relocated villagers into higher density housing to free up collective land. Oi examines how reorganized rural communities might affect village elections and the power of elected officials.

Fiscal politics and central-local relations in China have long been at the center of Oi’s research. Earlier work examined the fiscal predicament of lower levels of the Chinese state after fiscal recentralization and the abolition of fees and taxes on peasants.

Recently Oi has focused on growing local government debt in China and why there is so much when law prohibits localities from borrowing and budget deficits. Her research shines new light on the fiscal relationship between Beijing and the localities in the wake of the 1994 reforms. While the 1994 reforms recentralized tax revenues, Oi and her co-authors find that because of a series of backstage concessions between Beijing and the localities, decentralization was intensified. Localities were given new incentives and tools to grow their local economy and benefit from new sources of revenue. Central to this effort was local government borrowing, which was needed to fuel growth and maintain the façade of fiscal discipline.

A persistent theme in all of Oi’s work is the weight of institutions. Starting with her first book, Oi has tried to unravel how they shape politics and later how they help or hinder reform. Going inside local-level institutions, she sheds new light on China’s authoritarian resilience. She explored how county governments have been able to cope as the economy has grown exponentially and demands and needs from an increasingly complex society put more strains on resources and the political system. Through intensive and repeated visits to one locality, Zouping County, Shandong, she led a group of scholars to understand how institutions had evolved in the way that they operate even if on the surface little or no change is evident. China’s local governments were able to improvise and survive through adaptive governance. At the heart of authoritarian resilience in China is institutional agility in the face of incomplete reform.

Further following the theme of adaptive governance, she most recently co-edited a volume that examines how much further China can go with incomplete reform. The volume argues that China got great mileage out of its development model of the last 40 years that only tweaked the institutions that it inherited from the Mao period. This allowed the reforms in the CCP to avoid thorny political problems that challenged the core principles of the CCP leading a socialist system. But the question, 40 years into the reform process, is whether this same system may now become a weakness as current leaders continue to kick the can down the road, failing to complete the reform process. On the contrary, China seems to be “going back to the future,” relying on a playbook not seen since the Mao period.

Moving beyond her earlier work, Oi has begun a project to empirically assess the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Oi takes an institutional and micro-level approach to identify the key players and their interests. Is the BRI is a tightly coordinated central state effort, as some assert, or another example of local state development taking advantage of global opportunities? Using interviews with officials and collecting data on key political actors both within China and in the countries where the projects are taking place, she maps the firms that are signing contracts as well as the firms that actually do the work for BRI projects.

Projects


  • Understanding China’s BRI, Stanford University

    Taking an institutional and micro-level approach, this project analyzes the role of domestic politics in driving the Belt and Road Initiative and investigates its nature and implications.

    Location

    Stanford, CA

  • Fiscal Politics and Central-Local Relations in China, Stanford University

    The fate of the Chinese development model largely depends on the prospects of striking the right balance between central control and local discretion. To gain insights into the current dynamics of central-local relations this research project examines the challenges Beijing faces in trying to solve the rapidly rising local government debt problem.

    Location

    Stanford, CA

2020-21 Courses


Stanford Advisees


  • Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
    Haemin Jee, Jason Luo, Tongtong Zhang
  • Doctoral Dissertation Co-Advisor (AC)
    Anna Zhang
  • Doctoral (Program)
    Yiqin Fu, Qianmin Hu

All Publications


  • China's Challenges: Now It Gets Much Harder WASHINGTON QUARTERLY Fingar, T., Oi, J. C. 2020; 43 (1): 65–82
  • Unpacking the patterns of corporate restructuring during China's SOE reform ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL STUDIES-EPS Li, X., Oi, J. C. 2018; 6 (2): 118–34
  • Will Demographic Change Slow China's Rise? JOURNAL OF ASIAN STUDIES Eggleston, K., Oi, J. C., Rozelle, S., Sun, A., Walder, A., Zhou, X. 2013; 72 (3): 505-518
  • Syncretism: The Politics of Economic Restructuring and System Reform in Japan Oi, J., Kushida, K. E., Shimizu, K. Brookings Institution. 2013; 3
  • Shifting Fiscal Control to Limit Cadre Power in China's Townships and Villages CHINA QUARTERLY Oi, J. C., Babiarz, K. S., Zhang, L., Luo, R., Rozelle, S. 2012: 649-675
  • Children of China's Future YaleGlobal Online Oi, J. C. 2012
  • Adapt, Fragment, Transform: Corporate Restructuring and System Reform in South Korea edited by Oi, J. C., Kim, B., Kim , E. M. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. 2012
  • Going Private in China: The Politics of Corporate Restructuring and System Reform edited by Oi , J. C. Walter H Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center. 2011
  • China’s Corporate Restructuring: A Multi-step Process Going Private in China: The Politics of Corporate Restructuring and System Reform Oi, J. C., Chaohua, H. edited by Oi, J. C. Walter H Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center. 2011: 19–38
  • Turning Around State-Owned Enterprises under China’s Political Business Model The People’s Republic of China at 60: An International Assessment Oi, J. C. Harvard University Press . 2011: 212–219
  • Growing Pains: Tensions and Opportunity in China's Transformation edited by Oi , J. C., Rozelle, S., Zhou, X. Brookings Institution. 2010
  • Political Crosscurrents in China’s Corporate Restructuring Growing Pains: Tensions and Opportunities in China’s Transformation Oi , J. C. edited by Oi, J. C., Rozelle, S., Zhou, X. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. 2010
  • Uncertain Outcomes of Rural Industrialization: A Reassessment Dynamics of Local Governance in China During the Reform Era Oi, J. C., Shimizu , K. edited by Leng, T., Chu, Y. Lexington Books . 2010: 11–32
  • Fiscal Crisis in China's Townships: Causes and Consequences Grassroots Political Reform in Contemporary China Oi , J. C., Shukai, Z. edited by Goldman, M., Perry, E. Harvard University Press . 2007: 75–96
  • Chinese Firms Under Transformation: Corporate Restructuring, Employee Layoff and Manager Turnover in 1990s Politics and Neoliberalism: Structure, Process and Outcome Oi , J. C. edited by Prechel, H. Oxford: Elsevier JAI. 2007: 167–200
  • At the Crossroads of Empires: Middlemen, Social Networks, and State-building in Republican Shanghai edited by Oi , J. C., Dillon , N. Stanford University Press. 2007
  • Corporate Restructuring and Social Security in State Owned Enterprises: Lessons from China India-China: Managing Globalization Oi , J. C. edited by Kelly, D. A., Rajan , R. World Scientific Publishing. 2006: 147–166
  • Patterns of corporate restructuring in China: Political constraints on privatization Conference on the First 40 Years of the Universities Service Centre for China Studies OI, J. C. UNIV CHICAGO PRESS. 2005: 115–136
  • Old Problems for New Leaders: Institutional Disjunctions in Rural China The New Chinese Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities after the 16th Party Congress Oi , J. C. edited by Chu, Y., Lo, C., Myers, R. Cambridge University Press. 2004: 141–155
  • Guojia shehuizhuyi zhihou: Zhongguo qiye gaizhide zhengzhi yueshu (After State Socialism: Political Constraints on Corporate Restructuring in China) Ershiyi Shiji (Twenty First Century) Oi, J. C. 2004; 84: 15-23
  • Realms of Freedom in Post-Mao China Realms of Freedom in Modern China Oi , J. C. edited by Kirby, W. Stanford University Press . 2003: 264–284
  • Bending without Breaking, The Adaptability of Chinese Political Institutions How Far Across the River? Chinese Policy Reform at the Millennium Oi , J. C. edited by Hope, N. Stanford University Press . 2003: 450–468
  • Michel Charles Oksenberg: In memoriam CHINA QUARTERLY Goldstein, S. M., Lieberthal, K., Oi, J., Walder, A. 2001: 474-475
  • Elections and power: The locus of decision-making in Chinese villages CHINA QUARTERLY OI, J. C., Rozelle, S. 2000: 513-539
  • Property rights in the Chinese economy: Contours of the process of change Conference on Property Rights in Transitional Economies - Insights from Research on China Walder, A. G., OI, J. C. STANFORD UNIV PRESS. 2000: 1-?
  • Elections and Power: The Locus of Decision Making in Chinese Villages Elections and Democracy in Greater China Oi, J. C., Rozelle, S. edited by Diamond, L., Myers, R. Oxford University Press. 2000: 149–175
  • Two decades of rural reform in China: An overview and assessment CHINA QUARTERLY OI, J. C. 1999: 616-628
  • Property Rights and Economic Reform in China edited by Oi , J. C., Walder , A. G. Stanford University Press. 1999
  • Two Decades of Rural Reform in China: An Overview and Assessment The People’s Republic of China After 50 Years Oi, J. C. edited by Edmonds, R. Oxford University Press. 1999: 54–66
  • Rural China Takes Off: Institutional Foundations of Economic Reform Oi , J. C. University of California Press. 1999
  • The Evolution of Local State Corporatism Zouping in Transition: The Process of Reform in Rural North China Oi , J. C. edited by Walder, A. Harvard University Press. 1998 : 35–61
  • The Collective Foundation of Rapid Rural Industrialization Cooperative and Collective in China's Rural Development: Between State and Private Interest Oi, J. C. edited by Vermeer, E., Pieke, F. N., Chong, W. L. M.E. Sharpe. 1998: 93–109
  • Fiscal Reform and the Economic Foundations of Local State Corporatism in China The Political Economy of Chinese Reforms Oi , J. C. edited by Yang, G., Zhiyuan, C. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. 1997: 15–36
  • The Role of the Local State in China's Transitional Economy The International Library of Politics and Comparative Government Oi, J. C. edited by Ware, A. J., Smith, G., Arter, D. Ashgate Publishing Ltd.. 1997
  • The Role of the Local State in China's Transitional Economy China's Transitional Economy Oi, J. C. edited by Walder, A. Oxford University Press. 1996: 170–187
  • Economic Development, Stability, and Democratic Village Self-Governance China Review 1996 Oi, J. C. edited by Brosseau, M., Pepper, S., Shu-ki, T. Chinese University Press. 1996: 125–144
  • The role of the local state in China's transitional economy CHINA QUARTERLY OI, J. C. 1995: 1132-1149
  • Reform and Urban Bias in China The Sociology of Developoment Oi, J. C. edited by Roberts, B., Woo, C., Cushing, B. England: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.. 1995
  • Rational Choices and the Attainment of Wealth and Power in China's Countryside China Quiet Revolution: New Interactions Between State and Society Oi , J. C. edited by Goodman, D. S., Hooper, B. Longman Chesire . 1994
  • Chinese Agriculture: Modernization, but at What Costs? The Chinese and Their Future: Beijing, Taipei and Hong Kong Oi, J. C. edited by Lin, Z., Robinson, T. The AEI Press. 1994: 153–171
  • The Chinese and Their Future: Beijing, Taipei, and Hong Kong Oi , J. C. American Enterprise Institute. 1994
  • REFORM AND URBAN BIAS IN CHINA JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES OI, J. C. 1993; 29 (4): 129-148
  • Reform and Urban Bias in China Beyond Urban Bias Oi, J. C. edited by Varshney, A. London: Frank Cass . 1993
  • FISCAL REFORM AND THE ECONOMIC FOUNDATIONS OF LOCAL STATE CORPORATISM IN CHINA WORLD POLITICS OI, J. C. 1992; 45 (1): 99-126
  • Shandong Nourish the People: State Civilian Granaries in China, 1650-1850 Oi, J. C., Will, P. edited by Wong, R. B., Will, P. University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies. 1992: 321–388
  • Mobilization and Participation: The Case of China Guide to Asian Case Studies in the Social Sciences Oi , J. C. edited by Cohen, M. National Endowment for the Humanities. 1992: 257–266
  • Partial Reform and Corruption in Rural China China's Post-Mao Reforms: A Comparative Assessment Oi, J. C. edited by Baum, R. New York: Routledge. 1991: 143–161
  • The Fate of the Collective after the Commune Chinese Society on the Eve of Tiananmen: The Impact of Reform Oi, J. C. edited by Davis, D., Vogel, E. Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University. 1990: 15–36
  • MARKET REFORMS AND CORRUPTION IN RURAL CHINA STUDIES IN COMPARATIVE COMMUNISM OI, J. C. 1989; 22 (2-3): 221-233
  • State and Peasant in Contemporary China: The Political Economy of Village Government Oi , J. C. University of California Press . 1989
  • The Chinese Village, Inc. Chinese Economic Policy Oi , J. C. edited by Reynolds, B. Paragon Press . 1988: 67–87
  • COMMERCIALIZING CHINA RURAL CADRES PROBLEMS OF COMMUNISM OI, J. C. 1986; 35 (5): 1-15
  • PEASANT HOUSEHOLDS BETWEEN PLAN AND MARKET - CADRE CONTROL OVER AGRICULTURAL INPUTS MODERN CHINA OI, J. C. 1986; 12 (2): 230-251
  • Peasant Grain Marketing and State Procurements: China's Grain Contracting System China Quarterly Oi, J. C. 1986; 106: 272-290
  • COMMUNISM AND CLIENTELISM - RURAL POLITICS IN CHINA WORLD POLITICS OI, J. C. 1985; 37 (2): 238-266
  • The Harvest and the Politics of Local Grain Reserves Agricultural and Rural Development in China Today: Selected Papers from a Cornell University Workshop Oi, J. C. edited by Barker, R., Rose, B. Program in International Agriculture, Cornell University. 1983: 97–119
  • Politics in China's Local Grain Reserve System Development and Change in China Oi , J. C. edited by Chen, E. K., Chin, S. S. University of Hong Kong Centre of Asian Studies. 1981: 157–177