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This article examines some prominent explanations about the driving forces of economic institutional change in post-Mao China. A survey of the literature suggests that the triggering, orienting, and sustaining forces of institutional change are diverse and cannot be captured by any single model or theory. While there are different assessments and arguments about the same issue(s), many of them do not constitute competing theses. Rather, they offer essentially complementary clues to different aspects of a complex process of economic change. Where truly competing theses exist, their explanatory power may be enhanced by formulating testable hypotheses about the conditions under which one type of causal process or the other is likely to emerge. More revealing findings will likely result from integrative research.