University of Nottingham Ningbo China
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A case study of China's administrative reform

26 February 2014 (14:00-15:00)

The School of Contemporary Chinese Studies is pleased to invite you to the seminar presented by Professor Lisheng Dong, Professor of Political Science at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China.

About the seminar

Although it is generally acknowledged that China, in its public sector reforms, has "learnt from the West", the mechanisms and effects of the processes of learning and imitation in China are little understood. The recent "Sixth Round of Administrative Reforms" in which the Western concept of the "super-department" was presented as a key theme is used as a case study of the processes involved. Chinese leaders intentionally and actively sought the administrative reform experience from Western nations. A broad and coordinated search for models and lessons was undertaken involving a number of government agencies and research institutions, including universities. However, the government-sponsored research seemed to stay at the surface of the issue and, once the model was chosen, the policy makers tended to idealise it in order for it to be accepted by the public. The conclusion is that this was a case of "superstitious learning" and "biased contextualisation" in which the symbolic- as distinct from instrumental-purposes of borrowing a Western reform idea for domestic purposes was the predominant feature.

Speaker biography

Dong Lisheng is Professor of Political Science at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China. He has published 18 books and 32 referred articles and contributed to 18 books. He was the co-recipient of the Pierre de Celles Award for the best paper titled "Imitating the West? - A Survey of Chinese Civil Servants on Public Sector Reform" by the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration in 2012. He has published in Public Administration Review, American Review of Public Administration, International Review of Administrative Sciences and Journal of Contemporary China.