Enterprise and Welfare Reform in Communist Asia
Edited by Peter Ferdinand, Martin Gainsborough
Routledge – 2004 – 136 pages
Featuring a wide geographical scope, this collection of essays surveys enterprise and welfare reforms in all the remaining four Asian communist states: China, Vietnam, Laos and North Korea. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union they can no longer place major reliance upon assistance from other 'fraternal' states and have to devise their own strategies for survival. All have shown a trend towards greater reliance on market forces, though in different ways and to varying degrees. Enterprise management has to adapt to this. In some of them entrepreneurs have become politically and socially acceptable. They may even begin to set trends for social evolution. Yet since state entreprises used to be responsible for all welfare payments to employees and their families, management reforms cannot be separated from those of welfare arrangements. Reducing an enterprise's non-commerical obligations for the sake of greater market efficiency is bound to affect welfare provision. It also reopens the role of official trade unions. How these regimes cope with these conflicting pressures are vital factors in their long-term viability.