China's Civil Service Reform
By Wang Xiaoqi
Routledge – 2012 – 192 pages
A market economy and a more liberal society have brought great challenges to China’s outdated governance structure and personnel management. To improve decision-making in government and reshape the management system in face of a more complex economy, post-Mao authorities have implemented a number of administrative reforms, including civil service reform which emphasized on selecting and promoting public officials based on their capability and work performance. Thousands of positions have been filled since the civil service system was implemented nationwide in 1993. The Chinese civil service reform is of far-reaching significance because it had the potential to be a departure from the established structure of cadre personnel management system developed in the 1950s. However, after several years of policy development, scholars observe that the new reforms have done little to undermine the old cadre system. Is this true? Or does this conclusion over-simplify the complicated implementation of the reforms?
This book examines the implementation and performance of the on-going civil service reforms in China. Using the principal-agent framework, the author draw upon key case studies showing how the reforms affect civil servants’ incentives and behavior in the local context and the Chinese leadership’s control over the bureaucracy. China’s reform experience speaks directly to many Asian countries facing urgent need to improve state capacity as the global financial crisis unfolds.
"This is an exceptional book which provides an in-depth analysis of China’s civil service reform in recent decades. Drawing on first-hand data sources, the book points out that civil service reform, vital to economic and human development in China, has achieved some desired goals such as improved transparency, accountability, and participation, though the improvements are confined within the bureaucracy… Knowledge of the complexities of civil service reform will enhance our understanding of the dynamics and dilemma of China’s economic and political reforms. Timely and in great depth, China’s Civil Service Reform is a ground-breaking scholarly work on civil service governance in China. It is essential reading for students and scholars who are interested in civil service and political reforms in China." - Alfred M. Wu, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China; China Information 2013.
"This volume is a highly valuable addition to the study of bureaucracy and civil service in general, and a good example of quality fieldwork in the tricky environment of the Chinese political system. It is a well-crafted piece of scholarship that anyone interested in the Chinese political system at large should read, and anyone working with the bureaucracy specifically must read." - Nis Grünberg, The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies
1. Introduction 2. Civil Service Scope, Structure and Context for Reforms 3. Civil Service Reform Policy and Implementation 4. Local Implementation of Civil Service Reforms 5. Control of the Bureaucracy and Reform Outcomes 6. Implications for Asian Developing Countries 7. Conclusion
Wang Xiaoqi is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include Chinese politics, public governance and management, coordination and collaboration, comparative public policy, and state-society relations. Her article appeared in The China Quarterly and International Social Science Journal.