Economic reform in China has attracted growing attention from around the world owing to its significance for theory and practice. What has been largely missing in the literature is the temporal dimension, i.e., the changes over time in key variables such as organizational environment, firm strategic adaptations, and the performance implications. In this study, we investigate environment and strategic adaptations 12 years after Tan and Litschert examined these issues in 1990. Following a staged model, the study found that (1) organizational environment and firm strategic adaptations have co-evolved over time, (2) a new configuration has emerged and is related to improved performance, and (3) such a relationship is moderated by the stage during transition in which firms were founded. Specifically, firms founded since 1990 are more proactive and innovative than firms that had existed in the previous stage. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.