This article explores the implementation of SOE reform in China at the local level, using case studies in Guangzhou as illustration. It is argued that local government spearheads a reform agenda that puts locally-defined state objectives first, not necessarily favouring enterprise restructuring. A full-fledged negotiation model does not exist in SOE reforms because all enterprises are controlled by the state and have to comply with top-down policies and orders. Government-enterprise relations and the degree of entrepreneurial power depend largely on the economic strength of the enterprise, with the boomers getting a good economic bargain while the laggards fail to gain sympathy from government. Enterprise workers are largely at the mercy of restructuring decisions that come from bargaining and at times collusion between managers and local bureaucrats. Copyright © 2005 Taylor & Francis.