Who owns the firm (the state, private ownership, foreign investors) has long been an important topic for research on organizations. This paper estimates how much ownership contributes to firm performance, compared to other factors, including industry, region, firm size, year, and the firm itself. The data are on manufacturing firms in mainland China from 1998 to 2007. We find that the effect of owner type is significant and pervasive across regions and interacts with both geography and time, reflecting China's decentralized system and the strong trend in privatization. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.