What are the mechanisms through which Chinese municipal leaders overcome implementation breakdown? This study, through process tracing, archival work and semi-structured interviews, examines the implementation of three sub-municipal-level railway projects involving the same principals and agents over the same period of time.Design/methodology/approachThe analysis was guided by the hypothesis that political coordination and the exercise of political and Party leadership played an indispensable role in the two cases of successful policy implementation, and its absence accounts for the case of implementation breakdown.FindingsThe principal finding is that an informal “strategic group” was created to “herd” cadres to overcome the problem of implementation. Herding here refers to the idea that Party leadership, through the use of moral persuasion, encourages cadres moving towards a desired common goal and direction.Research limitations/implicationsThis study is limited in the number of secondary resources (government documents and government and media releases) available to the field interviewees, which the author heavily relied on to complete the study.Originality/valueBuilding on the conceptual work of “strategic groups” by Thomas Heberer, Anna Ahlers, and Gunter Schubert, this study makes an empirical contribution by tracing the process through which an informal strategic group exercises its power to overcome implementation breakdown.
Asian Education and Development Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 9, 2020
Keywords: Policy implementation; Bureaucratic politics; Local politics; Strategic groups; Railway development