Program

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships , Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships

Project

State, Market, and Bureau-Contracting in Contemporary China

Project

State, Market, and Bureau-Contracting in Reform China

Department

Political Science

State, Market, and Bureau-Contracting in Contemporary China

Why has the Chinese bureaucracy grown so dramatically during the reform period, despite a shift from the planned to market economy? This dissertation locates the roots of bureaucratic expansion in China’s anomalous state structure, labeled here as “bureau-contracting.” In China, public bureaucracy is fused with private contracting, creating a tiny core of civil servants and a massive periphery of service-business personnel who administer, organize public services, and run businesses. This dissertation stresses that much of bureaucratic expansion in China is in the “extra-state” sector, while the core government is surprisingly small, if not indeed, too small. The unusual organization of bureaucracy in China has consequences for rent seeking and public services delivery, as well as far-reaching implications for our understanding of modernization, state power, and market development.

State, Market, and Bureau-Contracting in Reform China

This study explains how China achieved spectacular state-led development despite not having a "Weberian" bureaucratic structure, conventionally seen as essential to capitalist development and state capacity building. This research shows that China in the reform era has taken a novel path of bureaucratic adaptation--labeled as bureau-contracting--one in which contracting takes place within levels of government, alongside inter-governmental revenue sharing. Combining statistical analyses of new data and extensive interviews, this study illuminates how bureau-contracting presents a high-powered but opportunistic alternative to the Weberian ideal-type. The Chinese case offers broader insights into the dual importance of pro-growth incentives and managed rents in developmental autocracies.