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Rethinking Property Rights as a Relational Concept: Access to Financial Resources Among Small and Mid-Sized Firms

Journal Articles
ChineseSociologicalReview

The prevailing image in the economic and legal literature portrays property rights as “a bundle of rights” and emphasizes their exclusivity, autonomy, and stability. Building on Zhou (2005), the authors elaborate and illustrate an alternative theoretical model to conceptualize property rights as a relational concept. They argue that the formation and evolution of property rights reflect ongoing social relations between an organization and its key stakeholders within and outside its boundaries. The proposed conceptualization emphasizes property rights as relational, interdependent, and adaptive, reflecting stable patterns of interactions between the organization and its environments. In this sense, property rights are a bundle of social relations. This line of arguments is illustrated in an empirical analysis of the configuration of property rights and their roles in the acquisition of financial resources among small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) in China.

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