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Organizer: Mary Buck, Harvard University
Chair and Discussant: David Strand, Dickinson College
Republican China witnessed the culmination of a remarkable period of institutional and organizational innovation which began in the late nineteenth century. This panel will examine three such innovations, the modern banks of Tianjin, the Supreme Court of Peking, and the Chinese Red Cross Society, all of which were imported whole cloth from the West and Japan. Embedded within each organizational form was a set of assumptions about the institutional environment, or the "rules of the game," within which it operated. In late Qing/early republican China, these western-inspired organizational forms were transplanted into yet another institutional environmentChinaswith its own "rules of the game." Based upon archival sources, and broadly drawing theoretically from neo-institutionalism, a perspective which sees organizational forms as growing out of, and being shaped by, their institutional environments, these three papers will examine the interplay between these imported organizational forms (and their implicit "rules of the games") and the early twentieth-century Chinese institutional environment, focusing on how one affects the other. By looking at three different types of organizational forms, semi-private/quasi-governmental (modern banks), governmental (modern courts), and international (the Chinese Red Cross Society), this panel seeks to enhance our understanding of not only the process of transplantation and transformation during an early formative modern era, but also the very nature of the institutional environmentswestern and Chineseat play. Sheehan suggests that modern banks of Tianjin, by insisting on doing business with only those agencies of warlord governments with the greatest likelihood of maintaining institutional integrity throughout successive political regimes, brought about a transition in the Chinese institutional environment from personal guanxi to organizational guanxi. Buck analyzes the outcomes of debt and obligation disputes heard by the Supreme Court of Peking under western-modeled rules of civil procedure and draft civil code in light of Chinese concepts of justice and customary practices. Finally, Reeves examines the process by which the founders and various actors engaged with the Chinese Red Cross Society not only manipulated the organizational form, but also reshaped the institutional concepts, originating from still evolving, international humanitarian norms, within their own local, Chinese contexts. The chair and discussant will be Professor David Strand, a political scientist, who will bridge the gap between social science and historical case study.
Rules to Bank On: Coercion, Negotiation and the Decline of Guanxi: Relations Between Tianjin Bankers and Warlord Government in Republican China
Brett G. Sheehan, University of Wisconsin, Madison
This paper examines the processes by which modern bank organizations adapted to, and transformed, the Chinese institutional environmentthe rules of the gamein the republican period. Institutions and organizations became increasingly important in early twentieth-century China for bankers and warlords alike. Not only did banks work under certain assumptions about the rules of the game, but they actively supported those agencies of warlord governments with the greatest institutional integrity, and the greatest likelihood for organizational continuity from regime to regime. As a result, contrary to most assumptions about Chinese society, "relations between organizations," not if relations between people," became the watchword for bank-warlord interaction.
Although in its infancy, the modern banking industry in Tianjin controlled enormous financial resources by the 1920s, and made a never-ending series of loans to local warlord governments. In theory, the coercive power of the militaristic governments gave them the edge in negotiations with bankers. Nonetheless, Tianjins banks survived and even thrived. Using the archives of the Tianjin Bankers association and the diary of Tianjins leading banker, this paper shows how banks survived by adhering to a set of procedures and rules as conditions for their loans and as guiding principles for dealing with warlords. The rules of the game which banks followed in their relations with militarists were not codified in law, and were subject to constant negotiation and compromise, but they still enabled banks to lend money to warlord regimes without significant losses. For their part, warlords demonstrated an implicit acceptance of these rules and respected the institutional integrity of banks to a surprising degree.
The Supreme Court of Peking (Daliyuan) and the New Rules of the Game
Mary Buck, Harvard University
The Supreme Court of Peking (Daliyuan), a product of the late Qing institutional reforms, was heralded at its creation in 1906 as the linchpin of Chinas modern legal system. It stood at the apex of a German- and Japanese-inspired "Four Levels and Three Trials" court system, but more significantly it represented a marked departure from its functional predecessor, the Board of Punishments, by hearing civil disputes. Formerly, only criminal capital appeals could be brought before Chinas highest appellate court. The Supreme Court of Peking also sat at the center of Chinas efforts to apply and develop new laws. In addition to a new criminal and criminal procedure code, a new code of civil procedure was enacted by 1912, and although a first draft plan of a civil code, modeled after the German and Japanese civil codes, was not adopted by the new republic, its provisions often were considered as determinative as if they had been enacted.
The Supreme Court of Peking, as the head of a newly imported organizational form of modern courts, and the accompanying rules of civil procedure and draft civil law code, each brought to the Chinese institutional environment its own assumed "rules of games." The relationship between the Supreme Court and the lower courts, for instance, was new, as was the function of each level court. New rules of civil procedure affected how issues were defined and the cases proceeded; the provisions of draft codified law assigned and allocated responsibility along new lines. The Supreme Court of Peking thus provides a two-prong approach to understanding the transplanted legal systems reception in early republican China. Based on case records of disputes over debt and obligation from the Second Historical Archives and the Jiangsu Provincial Archives, this paper examines (1) the interplay between this modern court system and rules of civil procedure and the substantive outcome of these civil disputes and (2) the tension between draft codified law and customary practices, and asks how each affected, and was affected by, Chinese concepts of procedural and substantive justice and the function of law.
International Organizations and Normative Institutions: The Case of the Chinese Red Cross Society
Caroline Reeves, Williams College
The Red Cross Society, in its many incarnations, is a relatively new international institution, which substantially shapes the way the international community thinks about humanitarian conduct in war time and during natural disasters. The Chinese Red Cross Society, a philanthropic relief organization founded in 1904 by Shanghai elites interested in helping beleaguered countrymen during the Russo-Japanese War, was officially recognized by the International Red Cross Society in 1912. Taking the already established international pattern of Red Cross national Societies as their guide (significantly influenced by the Japanese model), Chinas Red Cross philanthropists ostensibly imported a Western organizational modeland the international norms which shaped itwholesale.
Yet in 1904, the institutional norms behind the organization were still developing, and continue to develop to this very day. For many Red Cross national Societies, the Red Cross idea, although linked to an international institution, has developed (at least in each societys perception) to seem intrinsically their own. That is, many Americans consider the Red Cross Society and its principles profoundly American, just as many Chinese came to consider them profoundly Chinese during the Republican period. Looking at the Red Cross organization, then, we can examine the notion that institutions can be imported wholesale. This examination leads to the conclusion that organizationsor more specifically, their founders and the various actors who interact with the organizationnegotiate and manipulate not only the organizational framework, but also the institutional concepts/norms within their own local contexts. In China since the turn of the 20th century, the Red Cross organization has taken its place as a normative institution shaping ideas of humanitarian conduct, but not necessarily in the same ways it has done so in other countries around the world. This paper examines that process in Republican China.