Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Josef Korbel School of International Studies

First Advisor

Joseph S. Szyliowicz, Ph.D.


Airbus, Boeing, China, Industrial policy, Institutions


Despite the enormous risk associated with the development of a large indigenous airliner, China after a failed attempt in the mid-1980s, since 2003 has decided once again to embark on a journey toward the development of a 190 seat commercial airliner. Nations are typically interested in the development of indigenous airliners because of the potential spillover effects that years of research and development have on the economy and the military. Equally important is that China no longer wants to relinquish its large commercial airplane market to foreign companies such as Boeing and Airbus with their market expected to constitute nearly 25% percent of the world's demand worth $340 billion.

With the aviation industry naturally driven toward a natural monopoly, the Chinese government has agreed to not only subsidize the C919's development, removing the potential risk associated with launching a technologically advanced aircraft, but upon the aircraft's arrival, which is expected in 2016, but also guarantee sales of the plane by forcing its State-owned airlines to purchase it. This could potentially be harmful to current commercial aircraft producers Airbus and Boeing. If the three manufacturers: Boeing, Airbus and COMAC split the market in three ways, it will dig deep into the profits of all three manufacturers. This may force Boeing to contract the size of their work force, including skilled engineers and scientists, thus slowing down the process of innovation and product efficiency and the ability of the military and the economy reaping such benefits.

This dissertation weaves the work of Peter's Evans's "Embedded Autonomy and Michael Porter's "Determinant Model" to determine that given the current nature of the Chinese state, it possess an adequate level of embedded autonomy to implement favorable policy for constructing an internationally competitive airliner, which consists of both creating an innovative airliner and selling enough of them to develop scale economies. A state's institutional configurations whether it possess a high level of autonomy, high level of embeddedness, or a balance between the two, influence the essential society variables in Porter's Determinant model for developing industry differently.

Using a combination of primary source and secondary data from China, the United States and France, which include conducting interviews with key officials and experts in the aviation field from those countries, this research project compares and contrasts the institutional arrangements of China in the 1980's during its failed attempt at commercial aircraft development with today and concludes that different internal structures lead to different levels of effectiveness and success with respect to implementing policy choices favorable to the development of the commercial aviation industry.

Secondly, this Dissertation looks at the potential implications the success of the C919 may have on the United States and Boeing and the ways in which Boeing might prepare to meeting the challenges it faces.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Derek Adam Levine

File size

373 p.

File format





International relations, Asian studies, Political Science