China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Studies of state-bureaucracy relations in China typically emphasise the leadership’s use of quantitative performance criteria to control officials. However, qualitative research has increasingly revealed gaps in this governance method: Bureaucrats experiment in policy implementation, and subvert performance criteria, defying the Centre’s attempts to improve oversight through quantifiable targets. In turn, central officials resort to ad hoc, internal orders to redirect bureaucrats’ priorities. In light of these findings, this panel explores alternate frames for understanding state-bureaucracy relations in China. The papers address the questions: What strategies does the Chinese leadership use to control bureaucrats outside of performance criteria? Which strategies do bureaucrats respond to, and what approaches do they use to subvert or accommodate central control? The panel covers a range of policy areas for examining state-bureaucracy relations including environmental management (Ding and van der Kamp), urban community management (Li), hukou reform (Vortherm), and policing (Scoggins). The papers engage methodologies ranging from large-N analysis, to case studies and process-tracing. Through this diversity of topics and methodologies, this panel seeks to offers a fresh perspective on evolving state-bureaucracy relations in China.