China's Climate Change Dilemma: Policy and Management for Conditions of Complexity
Emergence: Complexity & Organization, Vol. 14 No. 2 2012 pp. 40-53
15 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2014
Date Written: 2012
The nature of China’s climate change dilemma is well-known: Climate change is exacerbating environmental devastation in China, but expanding mitigation efforts would pose new challenges to continuing economic development. National environmental measures often face strong resistance from sub-national authorities, which are incentivized by highly stable growth and development goals. This paper applies complexity theory to China’s climate change dilemma. Key insights of complexity theory — (i) the decisive role of systemic parameter settings (rule sets or minimum specifications) in shaping system behavior and (ii) the creative capacity of non-hierarchical organization — should encourage policy responses that reset incentives and harness creativity beyond government. Several instances are examined where incentive-focused, non-hierarchical initiatives have been effective in promoting climate-friendly behaviors. They include voluntary energy efficiency commitments undertaken by corporations, partnerships between local governments, clean-tech firms and international specialists, and ‘local issue-bundling’ to enlist public support for climate change mitigation.
Keywords: China, climate policy, management, complexity, energy
JEL Classification: 053, Q48
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