Meg Rithmire is the F. Warren McFarlan Associate Professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School (HBS). She holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University (2011), and is a comparative political scientist with a focus on China and Asia. Her first book, Land Bargains and Chinese Capitalism: The Politics of Property Rights under Reform (Cambridge University Press, 2015) examines the role of land politics, urban governments, and local property rights regimes in the reform era in China. The book focuses on the evolution of both national and subnational institutions governing land, primarily from the 1980s through the 2000s. The book argues that the emergence of land finance, by which local governments have grown dependent on land revenues since the 1990s, was an intentional policy on the part of the Chinese party-state to facilitate the growth of the real estate sector and to recentralize tax-based fiscal revenues. Based on a subnational comparison of three cities in the Chinese northeast, the book also argues that cities with early access to foreign capital also saw local governments that exercised more ownership of urban land, while cities that gained late access to foreign capital used informal property rights as a form of redistribution to the losers of economic reforms. Related work has been published in World Politics, The China Quarterly, Politics & Society, and Current History.
A new project looks at state-business relations in authoritarian Asia, specifically in China, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Tentatively titled, "Unfaithful Friends: Political and Business Elites in Authoritarian Asia," the book looks beyond the concept of ‘co-optation’ to ask when business and political elite partnerships produce economic growth and political stability and when, conversely, the produce economic stagnation or political crisis. The book draws on archival research, interviews, and several original datasets to explain the evolution of state-business relations by looking at the interaction between two factors: the political status of capitalists and the coherence of resource control, particularly financial resources, among the political elite. Related projects on state-business relations in Asia look especially at China, including the evolution of corporate forms in China and the process of globalization of Chinese firms. This work has involved field visits to sites of Chinese investment in the United States, South Asia (Sri Lanka), Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines) as well as detailed work investigating corporate filings of Chinese companies investing overseas.
At HBS, Dr. Rithmire teaches courses on macroeconomics, comparative and international political economy, and transnational trade and investment. She develops HBS cases for the classroom, which are not similar to academic articles but they do afford in-depth work in specific topics, for example Chinese tech investments in the United States or specific Belt and Road investments (e.g. Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka). Dr. Rithmire speaks Chinese and beginner Indonesian.