Career Backgrounds of Municipal Party Secretaries in China: Why Do So Few Municipal Party Secretaries Rise from the County Level?
Modern China, Forthcoming
52 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2015 Last revised: 8 Feb 2016
Date Written: January 3, 2015
This article examines the career backgrounds of municipal Chinese Communist Party secretaries between 1990 and 2011. Based on an analysis of 898 cadre biographies and 32 interviews with local government officials during 2011 and 2013, this article shows that the majority of municipal party secretaries had spent their careers working at the provincial and municipal levels, while only few advanced up from the county. Our analysis finds that obstacles hindering leading county cadres from rising to the upper ranks of the municipal apparatus include age and education restrictions; limited positions at the municipal level; the lack of networks linking to provincial leaders; and provincial leaders’ appointment preferences. Limited career advancement opportunities for county cadres have important implications for understanding the incentive foundations of China’s bureaucracy. With only slim prospects for leading county cadres to rise to top municipal positions, the political incentives outlined in the cadre evaluation system might not be as effective in steering cadre behavior as currently claimed in the literature.
Keywords: authoritanism, human resource management, cadre management system, career advancement, county cadres, incentives, China
JEL Classification: P00, P20, P27, P41, P50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation