Workshop on The Quality of Governance in China and Beyond: Issues and Implications

Call for Papers


The concept of governance has become increasingly important in the discussion of public administration in recent decades. From "governance with government" (Peters, 1998) to "governance beyond government" (Wachhaus, 2014), scholars have expressed concerns with the traditional and hierarchical organizational forms of government and advocated more decentralized and collaborative models of governance. In practice, various institutional reforms have taken place across countries to shift powers and responsibilities of government to public and private partnerships or quasi-government and nongovernment actors. Much has been said about the dynamics and processes of this shift, but its outcomes remain practically obscured and theoretically underexplored. While the New Public Management emphasizes outputs rather than inputs or processes, its 3Es approach - economy, efficiency and effectiveness – has nevertheless been criticized for sacrificing important social values such as equity, fairness, honesty and impartiality. Changes in the mode of governance do not necessarily lead to improved outcomes. Even if services are improved, public satisfaction with government or their trust in public organizations may not necessarily increase (Bouckaert & van de Walle, 2003). Government services should be judged not only on quantity but also on quality. The emphasis on high-quality governance is concerned not so much with economic development per se or material affluence but with the healthy development of societies. It pays attention to the ways, processes and results of governance in fulfilling social, ethical and environmental responsibilities.

The quality of governance is context specific. There is no one-size-fits-all conceptual framework for quality of governance. Nor is it possible to find universal solutions to improving quality of governance. However, those societies experiencing rapid social and economic transformation and facing governance challenges may serve as intriguing cases to illustrate why we should care about quality of governance and what we can do about it. China is one of them.


China has evolved from a backward country to the world's largest economic entity in roughly three decades. In the course of development, drastic and profound changes have taken place in state-society relations and, particularly, in the structure and process of government and its impact on society. The improved government capability, if judged quantitatively, is clearly manifested in the country's amazing GDP growth record and rapid expansion of provision of public goods and services. It is also taking a lead within the BRICS countries in setting up a new bank, AIIB, which has stressed corporate governance standards in its own operations. However, the quality of governance in meeting citizens' social, environmental, and ethical demands still leaves much to be desired or yet to be seen. Vested interests continue to profiteer from murky regulations; cash-strapped local governments fail to satisfy immediate community needs; popular contentions surge due to land grab or other official misconduct; sound social safety nets are still missing and an all-inclusive and sustainable national pensions system not yet in place; and rampant corruption, while being tackled, shakes the very foundations of the political regime.

How and to what extent are these problems related to the structure, process and strategy of governance? What can China or any other countries facing similar problems do to improve the quality of governance in order to ensure good policy outcomes? This PAD special issue intends to explore issues and debates related to the quality of governance in China and beyond. It seeks to obtain a better understanding of theories and practices that may provide explanations and recommendations for high-quality governance, rather than focusing on what is the quality of governance and how to measure it. Papers should be theory-driven and empirically sound and are expected to relate in-depth discussion of specific issues or cases to the general theme of governance quality. Papers may focus on China or other countries; comparative studies between China and other regions are particularly welcome. Research topics may include, but are not limited to: state regulation, environmental sustainability, popular contention, social service provision, civil service and state enterprise management reform, urban management, policing, social safety net, control of corruption, performance management.

Next Steps

  1. Interested authors should submit an abstract of one page maximum in electronic form to the PAD Office ( for the attention of the Guest Editors of Governance Quality SI by 10 March 2016. The abstract should provide a detailed description of research questions, analytical framework, evidence to be collected, and possible conclusions. Information such as author's name, affiliation, title, and email should be included. Authors will be informed of selection results before 25 March 2016.

  2. Selected authors should send an early draft or a full presentation file to by 30 April 2016.

  3. Authors of accepted papers will be invited to attend a workshop on 15-17 June at City University of Hong Kong.

  4. Authors are expected to revise their papers after the workshop. The final draft of papers should be submitted to no later than 31 December 2016 and will go through a normal process of review.

SI Organizing Committee