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Uneven Policy Implementation in Rural China

The China Journal 65 (2011), 53-76

24 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2012  

Christian Goebel

University of Vienna

Date Written: November 8, 2012


While research on “selective policy implementation” has provided explanations for why some policies are more likely to be implemented well than others, this contribution is concerned with the phenomenon of one and the same policy being implemented well in one locality, but not in another. From a vantage point of policy implementation instruments, it examines the uneven implementation of the rural tax reform that preceded the recent Construction of a Socialist New Countryside (jianshe shehuizuhyi xin nongcun). The study reveals that “competition under hierarchy” provided incentives for some localities to continuously improve the tax reform by means of local-level experiments. Conversely, it prompted a great number of localities to circumvent or even sabotage the reform, thereby forcing the central government to make repeated financial concessions and eventually to centralize the provision of rural public services. By focussing more on processes than on end results, the article demonstrates how different experiences in local policy implementation can contribute to the overall development of a policy.

Keywords: Tax-for-fee reform, Rural Tax and Fee Reform, Policy Implementation, China

Suggested Citation

Goebel, Christian, Uneven Policy Implementation in Rural China (November 8, 2012). The China Journal 65 (2011), 53-76. Available at SSRN:

Christian Gobel (Contact Author)

University of Vienna ( email )

Bruenner Strasse 72
Vienna, Vienna 1090

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