The Chinese bureaucracy presents a set of anomalies that need to be explained: In the presence of a strong central authority, why do we observe widespread collusive behaviors at the local level? Why are violations and problems uncovered in the inspection processes are left unaddressed? Why is performance evaluation conducted by the higher authorities is subsequently ignored by the local authorities? We develop a theoretical model on authority relationships in the Chinese bureaucracy by conceptualizing the allocation of control rights in goal setting, inspection and incentive provision among the principal, supervisor and agent. Variations in the allocation of control rights give rise to different modes of governance and entail distinct behavioral implications among the parties involved. The proposed model provides a unified framework and a set of analytical concepts to examine different governance structures, varying authority relationships, and behavioral patterns in the Chinese bureaucracy. We illustrate the proposed model in a case study of authority relationships and the ensuing behavioral patterns in the environmental protection arena over a 5-year policy cycle.
About the speaker:
Xueguang Zhou is the Kwoh-Ting Li Professor in Economic Development, a professor of sociology, and a Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies senior fellow. His main area of research is on institutional changes in contemporary Chinese society, focusing on Chinese organizations and management, social inequality, and state-society relationships. Zhou's research topics are related to the making of markets, village elections, and local government behaviors. His recent publications examine the role of bureaucracy in public goods provision in rural China (Modern China, 2011); interactions among peasants, markets, and capital (China Quarterly, 2011); access to financial resources in Chinese enterprises (Chinese Sociological Review, 2011, with Lulu Li); multiple logics in village elections (Social Sciences in China, 2010, with Ai Yun); and collusion among local governments in policy implementation (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 2011, with Ai Yun and Lian Hong; and Modern China, 2010) .