Authoritarian Environmentalism Undermined? Local Leaders’ Time Horizons and Environmental Policy Implementation

The China Quarterly, Volume 218, 359 - 380, 2014

19 Pages Posted: 28 May 2013 Last revised: 4 Jun 2015

See all articles by Sarah Eaton

Sarah Eaton

Humboldt University of Berlin

Genia Kostka

Freie Universität, Berlin

Date Written: May 27, 2013

Abstract

China’s national leaders see restructuring and diversification away from resource-based, energy intensive industries as central goals in the coming years. On the basis of extensive fieldwork in China between 2010 and 2012, we suggest that the high turnover of leading cadres at the local level may hinder state-led greening growth initiatives. Frequent cadre turnover is intended primarily to keep local Party secretaries and mayors on the move in order to promote implementation of central directives. While rotation does seem to aid implementation by reducing coordination problems, there are also significant downsides to local leaders’ changing office every three to four years. Officials with short time horizons are likely to choose the path of least resistance in selecting quick, low quality approaches to the implementation of environmental policies. We conclude that the perverse effects of local officials’ short time horizons give reason to doubt the more optimistic claims about the advantages of China’s model of environmental authoritarianism.

Keywords: authoritarian environmentalism, cadre rotation, environmental policy, implementation, China, leadership, time horizons

JEL Classification: O53, P50, Q2, R5, R58

Suggested Citation

Eaton, Sarah and Kostka, Genia, Authoritarian Environmentalism Undermined? Local Leaders’ Time Horizons and Environmental Policy Implementation (May 27, 2013). The China Quarterly, Volume 218, 359 - 380, 2014 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2270529

Sarah Eaton (Contact Author)

Humboldt University of Berlin ( email )

Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, AK Berlin 10099
Germany

Genia Kostka

Freie Universität, Berlin ( email )

Boltzmannstr. 3
Berlin, 14195
Germany

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