Jean C. Oi is the William Haas Professor in Chinese Politics in the department of political science and a Senior Fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. She is the founding director of the Stanford China Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. Professor Oi also is the founding Lee Shau Kee Director of the Stanford Center at Peking University.
A PhD in political science from the University of Michigan, Oi first taught at Lehigh University and later in the department of government at Harvard University before joining the Stanford faculty in 1997.
Her work focuses on comparative politics, with special expertise on political economy and the process of reform in transitional systems. Oi has written extensively on China's rural politics and political economy. Her State and Peasant in Contemporary China (University of California Press, 1989) examined the core of rural politics in the Mao period—the struggle over the distribution of the grain harvest—and the clientelistic politics that ensued. Her Rural China Takes Off (University of California Press, 1999) examined the property rights necessary for development and showed how "local state corporatism" facilitated rapid growth of rural industry.
More recently, she has been researching the politics of corporate restructuring, with a focus on the incentives and institutional constraints of state actors. She recently published three edited volumes, one on China, Going Private in China: The Politics of Corporate Restructuring and System Reform (2011), and one on Korea, co-edited with Byung-Kook Kim and Eun Mee Kim, Adapt, Fragment, Transform: Corporate Restructuring and System Reform in Korea, and the third of the edited volumes: Syncretism: The Politics of Economic Restructuring and System Reform in Japan, co-edited with Kenji E. Kushida and Kay Shimizu. Brookings Institution, 2013.
Oi also continues her research on rural finance and local governance in China and published “Shifting Fiscal Control to Limit Cadre Power in China’s Townships and Villages,” in The China Quarterly, with Kim Singer Babiarz, Linxiu Zhang, Renfu Luo, Scott Rozelle. Most recently, she has been studying challenges in China’s rapid urbanization. She has been doing fieldwork on the organization of rural communities and the provision of public goods, especially affordable housing.
Her other recent publications include Growing Pains: Tensions and Opportunity in China's Transformation (Brookings Institution Press, 2010), co-edited with Scott Rozelle and Xueguang Zhou; "Fiscal Crisis in China's Townships," co-authored with Zhao Shukai, in Grassroots Political Reform in Contemporary China (Harvard University Press, 2007), Merle Goldman and Elizabeth Perry, eds.; and At the Crossroads of Empires: Middlemen, Social Networks, and State-building in Republican Shanghai (Stanford University Press, 2007), co-edited with Nara Dillon.