T02P33 - Comparative Public Policy: An Asian Perspective

Topic : Comparative Public Policy

Panel Chair : Wilson Wai Ho Wong - wwong@cuhk.edu.hk

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1

Discussants

Shamsul Haque - polhaque@nus.edu.sg - Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore - Singapore

Changing Civil Service Values and A Comparative Analysis of Policymaking in Hong Kong

WEI LI - liwei@cuhk.edu.hk - Chinese University of Hong Kong - Hong Kong, (China)

Scholarly work in the 1990s indicated that the values of civil servants in late colonial Hong Kong were evolving from those of classical bureaucrats to more political bureaucrats as the political and social environment in Hong Kong changed. Based on in-depth interviews of 58 politicians and senior civil servants carried out from 2009-12, we argue that Hong Kong civil service values, developed over decades of practice, are very resilient in spite of profound shocks such as regime change and governance reform. Traditional civil service values such as fiscal prudence and balancing various community interests have long been dominant. The introduction of a new political class in Hong Kong has created space for and buffered civil service values permitting continuity. The values of newly introduced politicians who did not come from the civil service, however, indicate that senior bureaucrats have had to be more accommodating. We illustrate the enduring influence of civil service values in Hong Kong in two case studies that focus on small-class teaching and minimum-wage legislation.   

 

Keywords: Hong Kong civil service values; politicians and bureaucrats; policymaking; regime change; governance reform

 

 

 

Inclusive Development, Chinese Style

Hongchuan Wang - wanghongchuan8@gmail.com - Tsinghua University - United States

Shaojie Zhou - zhoushaojie@tsinghua.edu.cn - Tsinghua University - China

     Since the economic reforms and opening launched in 1978, China has achieved a high economic growth for nearly four decades as the largest developing and transition economy in the world, from a low-income country to an upper-middle income country. Against the rapid economic growth, China’s development inequality is widely recognized. For example, income inequality extensively exists between the rural and urban areas and between the coastal and inland regions. The Gini coefficient, as one conventional measure of income inequality, is higher than 0.45, which is regarded as an alarming level. In addition, along with the high-income inequality, the significant development disparity in various social programs, such as the provision of education and health care. Despite that the high development disparity in China exists for a long time, China has made great progress in poverty reduction, and the development disparity also declined substantially in the past decade, such as income inequality and social programs, i.e., inclusive development. Traditionally, the international community on China studies mainly concerns with China rapid economic growth and tremendous social changes, the inclusive development with Chinese characteristics received less academic concern comparatively. This study aims to present explanations of China’s inclusive development and three questions are addressed, including the incentives that China adopts an inclusive development strategy, what the main policy regimes are for the inclusive development and how these policies towards inclusive development are implemented.

    This study develops an analytical framework based on political economy from the intercalations of economic growth, social tensions and policy settings towards building a harmonious society. First, in the context of economic growth and social transformation, the ideology of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) aims to build the socialist with Chinese characteristics generates the strong political will to mitigate the social tensions generated by the dramatic social changes along with rapid economic growth and the dissolution of traditional welfare institution in the planned economy through the inclusive development outlook. Second, this study reviews the policy settings for inclusive development from multi-dimensions, including poverty reduction, social programs, and coordination development policies. Third, this study investigates some institutional factors that affect the effectiveness of inclusive development policies from the political capacity and the policy implementation. Finally, this study concludes with the prospects and challenges of inclusive development in the future.

Convergence with Divergence in the Policy Diffusion, Learning and Transfer: Agencification, Quasi-autonomous Agencies and the Urban Renewal Authority in Hong Kong

Wilson Wai Ho Wong - wwong@cuhk.edu.hk - The Chinese University of Hong Kong - Hong Kong, (China)

Hau-yin, Raymond YUEN - raymond.hyyuen@gmail.com - Lingnan University, Hong Kong - Hong Kong, (China)

This paper uses agencification as a focal point to examine the dilemma of convergence and divergence in policy diffusion, policy learning and policy transfer. More precisely, it is argued in this paper that many practices of public policy and management are only converging at an “idea” level and the key elements and effects are often pointing to the exact opposite direction of divergence which is a manifestation of the contextual factors in a local context. Many international practices in public policy and management are spreading and being adopted around the globe through the process of policy diffusion, policy learning and policy transfer. At a glance, this seems to represent a global trend of international convergence. However, a deeper investigation of the actual implementation and mechanisms would reveal a very different story and contextual factors, including political, economic and social settings, history, culture and tradition, which varies significantly across countries and regions, often play a key role in explaining such gap.

 

The theory of agencification is selected to develop the argument and the case of the Urban Renewal Authority in Hong Kong is used for testing and illustration. Hong Kong was once seen as a pure form of ‘administrative state’, with executive power being concentrated in the bureaucracy. However, quasi-autonomous agencies, with statutory power, a long historical pedigree and deep-rooted embeddedness into the governing system, have been established extensively. Quasi-autonomous agency as an institutional choice is an actively pursued and emerging research area. In the public management literature, the creation of specialized, autonomous and contractual agencies is advocated by New Public Management (NPM) in the name of efficiency. NPM argues that the use of agencies has become an ‘international trend’ for the public sector reform. Yet, the extent to which the idea of agency is adopted in actual practice remains doubtful, since policy transfer is usually filtered by functional and political needs of the domestic political-administrative context of a particular regime. This research tests the ‘international convergence’ hypothesis through the theory of agencification by mapping the Urban Renewal Authority in Hong Kong with the ‘tripod model’ as a benchmark for assessing the formal-legal structure of the quasi-autonomous agencies with regards to the three core features of an ideal-typical NPM agency, i.e., disaggregation, autonomization and contractualization. The study in this paper should have implications on the theory of policy diffusion, policy learning and policy transfer. More specifically, through highlighting the level of divergence under the vague and ambiguous umbrella of convergence, to challenge some of their core assumptions of policy transfer, policy diffusion and policy learning, It questions whether convergence as propelled by forces such as globalization are valid or it is no more than a mirage hiding the latent contextual factors, which still suggests the persisting dominance of forces of localization. This paper should match the central theme of the panel well to generate useful knowledge in comparative public policy which can be adopted for addressing policy problems by taking into consideration of differences across regions.

 

 

Capacity for Enforcement: Beijing's Food Safety Regulatory Reform

Wai Hang Yee - whyppa@hku.hk - University of Hong Kong

Regulatory scholars are paying increasing attention to enforcement issues in developing countries. This study contends that a main source of enforcement challenge in developing countries concerns the organizational and systemic capacities of the regulatory system, and that deficits in these capacities affect the effectiveness of various enforcement strategies. The study elaborates these relationships and illustrates them with a case study of China’s recent food regulatory reform. Through interviews with frontline regulators from 5 sub-district/township-level regulatory offices in Beijing, the study found that capacity deficits such as inadequate personnel and resource supports, weak professionalism, unfavorable performance evaluation criteria, internal and external coordination problems, biased media-reporting and the abuse of the citizen-complaint system had undermined the enforcement effectiveness of these offices and their use of various enforcement strategies. The findings support our contention and provide valuable lessons for improving the reform.

Redefining and measuring pesticide overuse in agriculture: bounded rationality of farmers in decision-making

May Chu - maychu@cuhk.edu.hk - Department of Government and Public Administration, The Chinese University of Hong Kong - Hong Kong, (China)

 

In the agriculture sector, pesticides are commonly used to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate a number of pests, weeds, insect infestation and diseases. They serve a key role in enhancing crop productivity and ensuring food stability around the world, and reducing farmers’ income loss resulting from pest diseases. Despite these benefits, pesticides also impose a number of risks to human beings and the environment. The high risk groups exposed to pesticides include agricultural farm workers, pesticides sprayers and mixers. Pesticides can also contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation. Pesticides, as an input in agricultural production, is not cost-free and it does impose a burdensome cost on farmers. Hence, the study of pesticide overuse is important in improving our understandings of how regulatory policies on pesticide use can be modified, and how reducing the use of pesticides can increase farmers’ income and alleviate its harm to human beings and the environment.

 

Although previous research has discussed factors inducing pesticide overuse and how government regulations are related to the behaviors, the concept of ‘overuse’ has not been well defined in existing studies. For example, how did they measure ‘overuse’ of pesticides? Further, compliance does not necessarily mean optimal use of pesticides. Even if one follows government regulations and the recommended dose, this does not necessarily that pesticide use has attained its optimal level.

 

To address the issue, in this study, we set up our models to define and measure overuse by estimating marginal productivities of pesticide. This study collects survey data from 900 rice farmers in China, and apply the C-D production function (Headley, 1968) and damage control model (Lichtenberg & Zilberman, 1986) to estimate the marginal productivity of pesticides. On the basis of the estimated results and using ML-Binary Logit Regression, this paper further analyzes how overuse can be explained by the specific experience of individual farmers and their respective contextual environments. In specific, risk aversion (Ozanne, Hogan & Colman, 2001) and bounded rationality (Simon, 1982) are the key approaches to explaining why farmers may not be particularly responsive to prices in their use of pesticides. In general, this study links the specific perception and incentive of individual farmers to their respective contextual environments in decision-making. This can improve our understandings on how pesticide use regulation in developing countries can be improved.

 

References

 

Headley, J. C. (1968). Estimating the productivity of agricultural pesticides. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 50(1), 13-23.

 

Lichtenberg, E., & Zilberman, D. (1986). The econometrics of damage control: why specification matters. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 68(2), 261-273.

 

Ozanne, A., Hogan, T., & Colman, D. (2001). Moral hazard, risk aversion and compliance monitoring in agri‐environmental policy. European review of agricultural economics, 28(3), 329-348.

 

Simon, H. A. (1982). Models of bounded rationality: Empirically grounded economic reason (Vol. 3). MIT press.

 

Are Policy Diffusion, Policy Learning and Policy Transfer Real? Explaining the Divergence behind Convergence in Global Public Policy and Management Practices

Wilson Wai Ho Wong - wwong@cuhk.edu.hk - The Chinese University of Hong Kong - Hong Kong, (China)

In the literature of policy diffusion, policy learning and policy transfer, it often perceives most government and public organizations are taking real and positive steps in improving themselves to meeting a global standard of performance in various desirable aspects, including efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and transparency. Under this perspective, governments around the globe are converging to a narrow range of forms and patterns. However, there are also theories, arguments and evidence to question this view seriously. This counter argument goes beyond the typical criticism by theories such as institutional isomorphism that the adoption is done for purposes other than the stated goals such as efficiency. It goes to the more extreme end that there is no real adoption at all and adoption can be done only at the “idea” level. This paper uses agencification as a focal point to examine the dilemma of convergence and divergence in policy diffusion, policy learning and policy transfer. More precisely, it is argued in this paper that many practices of public policy and management are only converging at a minimum level and the key elements and effects are often pointing to the exact opposite direction of divergence which is a manifestation of the contextual factors in a local context. Many international practices in public policy and management are spreading and being adopted around the globe through the process of policy diffusion, policy learning and policy transfer. At a glance, this seems to represent a global trend of international convergence. However, a deeper investigation of the actual implementation and mechanisms would reveal a very different story and contextual factors, including political, economic and social settings, history, culture and tradition, which varies significantly across countries and regions, often play a key role in explaining such gap. In this paper, through highlighting the level of divergence under the vague and ambiguous umbrella of convergence, it challenges some of their core assumptions supporting the core theories of policy transfer, policy diffusion and policy learning, It questions whether convergence as propelled by forces such as globalization are valid or it is no more than a mirage hiding the latent contextual factors, which still suggests the persisting dominance of forces of localization. The theory of agencification is selected to develop the argument and the case of Hong Kong is used for testing and illustration. With the case study of Hong Kong and a critical review and integration of the related literature, the study in this paper should set up a new framework to bridge the gap between the existing theories of policy diffusion, policy learning and policy transfer and the real-world practices. This paper should match the central theme of the panel well to generate useful knowledge in comparative public policy which can be adopted for addressing policy problems by taking into consideration of differences across regions.

 

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