How has Quanjude, a restaurant renowned for its Peking Duck—a local specialty of Beijing—developed in the wake of China’s economic reform? Although Quanjude is classified as a state-owned enterprise, it cannot be considered a brand that has developed only by virtue of this classification.
Should the role of longstanding enterprises be considered similar to that of other state-owned enterprises? Along with many other longstanding enterprises, Quanjude was founded in the Beijing district of Qianmen, which is located in the jurisdiction of the city’s municipal government. Then, how is Quanjude viewed by the Beijing government?
This study attempts to investigate the status given to longstanding enterprises by the Beijing government with reference to the two paradoxes proposed by Martin Whyte (2009) regarding “decentralization of authority” and “a return to matters rejected during the Cultural Revolution.”
With a principal focus on four topics, this study undertook a detailed investigation of a broad range of materials that included statistical yearbooks as well as current articles and journals. It found that (1) brand value is protected as intellectual property through certification as a “China Time-honored Brand,” and this cultural resource is reflected in the policies of the Beijing government. (2) Apart from commercial activities, these enterprises are simultaneously engaged in activities that cannot be considered primarily profit-oriented. Although longstanding enterprises have developed on the basis of the principle of competition, they are grounded in the relationships of “mutual aid” by which large-scale enterprises drive SME firms through partnerships that enable omni-channel marketing through outlets such as brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping. (3) Areas with high concentrations of longstanding enterprises (and thus of tourism resources) represent a shared resource and therefore require certain macro controls that enable them to address the preservation of this resource. (4) Finally, the ownership and governance structure of longstanding enterprises include elements of a conglomerate structure that is conducive to effective policy implementation by the Beijing government.
The Beijing government thus positions longstanding enterprises as both “commercial firms” and a “cultural industry,” while some of these firms also possess properties distinct from those of more conventional state-owned enterprises in terms of how they exercise influence by embodying businesses embedded in the community against a background of history, culture, and politics.