The Small Property Rights Housing Institution in Mainland China : The Perspective of Substitutability of Institutional Functions

Ziqi ZHOU, Yung YAU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Despite its informal nature, small property rights housing (SPRH) proliferates in many Chinese cities. Given the institutional functions of the SPRH institution, it may not be desirable for the state to intervene in the SPRH sector. However, the institutional credibility and the institutional functions of SPRH are not completely endogenous, which contradicts the assumption of the credibility thesis. Based on the framework of the credibility thesis, this paper proposes the concept of the substitutability of institutional functions and develops a framework integrating the concepts of substitutability and credibility to examine the influence of functional substitutability on institutional credibility. Research hypotheses were tested with the data collected through a questionnaire survey on SPRH residents in Shenzhen and Chenzhou (n = 458). The analysis results of the combined model suggest that the supportive perceptions of actors for SPRH and the credibility of SPRH are significantly related to the substitutability of SPRH’s functions. The effect of the substitutability of social housing on credibility is found insignificant, while the impact of the substitutability of commercial housing on credibility is significant. However, the analysis results are city-specific. A significant negative correlation is found between the substitutability of formal housing institutions and the credibility of SPRH in Chenzhou but not in Shenzhen. This study attempted to refine the credibility thesis by clarifying the relationship between institutional functions and institutional credibility and examining the endogeneity of credibility.
Original languageEnglish
Article number915
Issue number9
Early online date30 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Substitutability of institutional functions
  • Small property rights housing (SPRH)
  • Institutional credibility
  • Credibility thesis

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