Precarious Ties: Business and the State in Authoritarian Asia

Author: Meg Rithmire, F. Warren McFarlan Associate Professor in Business, Government, and International Economy at Harvard Business School

About the book

Relationships between political and business elites are crucial in determining a nation’s political-economic trajectory. Understanding such relationships and why they change over time can tell us much about the fundamental nature of a regime and its degree of stability, especially for authoritarian regimes that feature capitalist growth. In Precarious Ties, Meg Rithmire offers a novel account of the relationships between business and political elites in three authoritarian regimes in developing Asia: Indonesia under Suharto’s New Order, Malaysia under the Barisan Nasional, and China under the Chinese Communist Party. To understand the differing economic outcomes of these nations, Rithmire introduces two conceptual models—mutual alignment and mutual endangerment—that explain the variation and instability found in state-business relations in authoritarian regimes. Empirically rich and sweeping in scope, Precarious Ties offers lessons for all nations in which the state and the private sector are deeply entwined.

ISBN 9780197697528

September 18, 2023 Oxford University Press

390 Pages

“Meg Rithmire has brought finance into the study of Asian political economy with a vengeance. Her comparative analysis of three diverse authoritarian systems masterfully details how trust and alignment between business and the state tend to disintegrate over time, with politically explosive implications. Interested in what China’s growing financial woes might mean for its politics? Read this book”

—Dan Slater, James Orin Murfin Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

“In Precarious Ties, Rithmire delves into one of the most puzzling aspects of China’s economic development: the usually dangerous relationship between business and political elites in an authoritarian country.”

—David Barboza, Co-Founder of The Wire China