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. Oi is the founding director of the Stanford China Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. She leads Stanford's China Initiative, and is the Lee Shau Kee Director of the Stanford Center at Peking University. Oi directed Stanford's Center for East Asian Studies from 1998 to 2005.
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 Chinese political economy. She 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 pre-reform period—the struggle over the distribution of the grain harvest—and the clientelistic relationships 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.
Currently, she is researching the politics of corporate restructuring, with a focus on the incentives and institutional constraints of state actors. She recently published an edited volume 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. She also continues her research on rural finance and local governance in China.
Her other recent publications include"Patterns of Corporate Restructuring in China: Political Constraints on Privatization" in China Journal (January 2005); 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 withNara Dillon.