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Rural industrialization and administrative decentralization in China, 1958-1978

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Title: Rural industrialization and administrative decentralization in China, 1958-1978
Author: Dolan, Margaret Elizabeth
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Political Science
Copyright Date: 1978
Abstract: The failure of the highly centralized Soviet model of administration to provide a satisfactory solution to China's rural developmental needs led the Chinese leadership in 1956 to search for an administrative strategy which would offer both the central control and local initiative, unity and diversity in planning believed necessary for the realization of their ambitious developmental goals. This study examines the process of administrative development in China in the context of the rural industrialization strategy which has constituted a fundamental part of the Chinese developmental experience since 1958. It is an attempt to discern what, if any, pattern has been established with respect to administrative development, what has affected changes in the relative distribution of power between the economic actors in the system and finally, what is the nature of the administrative system guiding the rural industrial development program in the closing years of the 1970s. The study compares administrative developments in China with the concept of linear decentralization explored by a number of Western writers concerned with problems of development in general and administrative development in particular. The evidence presented here suggests that the process of administrative decentralization in the developing state is likely to be far more complex than implied by the concept of a gradual progressive shift of power from the central to the local authorities in relation to developmental projects of a locally relevant nature. Administrative decentralization in China has been characterized by the continual expansion and contraction in the number of centres of authority with respect to rural industrial development and by constant shifts in the responsibilities afforded to any particular level at a given period of time. It is also the case that a movement of power out of the Centre has not necessarily resulted in a similar response at other levels of the administrative apparatus and, in fact, a reverse process may be occurring at particular levels outside of the centre. In general, a functional division of responsibilities based primarily upon resource availability relating to rural industrial development has evolved between the territorial administrative units. This functional division of labor between the various actors in the economic system has shifted over time to accommodate - not only changes in socio-economic variables but also changes in the goals and priorities established by the leadership. The Chinese case indicates that the strategy of rural industrial development chosen along with", changes in leadership preferences with respect to the incentive system adopted, the technology employed, the nature of the enterprise and of the industrial system pursued, have been the most important variables in determining the distribution of authority in the system. It is also a finding of this study that the terminological distinctions made between the deconcentration and the devolution of administrative authority have been extremely useful tools in enabling a more detailed breakdown of the administrative process in China. These distinctions offer the possibility of more specific cross-national comparisons of the administrative functions performed by different actors in countries which do not necessarily share similar formal administrative structures.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/21595
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Scholarly Level: Unknown

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