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Government Purchase of Services in China: Similar Intentions, Different Policy Designs
Public Administration and Development (2017)
  • Zhuoyi WEN, Lingnan University
China has adopted purchase-of-services to facilitate the development of societal sector, including social organisations, social work profession, and social services. Project-based and post-based purchases are two typical policy designs. Why do the local states develop two different designs to serve similar intentions? The answers to this question contribute to the broader discussion of policymaking and social development in China. With the intention-capacity analytic framework, this study systemically compares the Guangzhou’s project-based model and Shenzhen’s post-based model, by drawing upon an extensive review of policy and archive documents, key informant interviews and field observations. The comparative study suggests, the pro-market ideology and incomplete analytical capacity in policy learning directed the design thinking towards market mechanism and purchase-of-services. Without the organisational conditions of social organisation and social work in Guangzhou, rapid growth in the social work workforce became the top priority in Shenzhen. Meanwhile, the trustworthiness of newly developing social organisations is another concern. All of these concerns underpinned the post-based design. Both models succeed in expanding the societal sectors with the substantial fiscal support. But the mixes of market and hierarchy tools, post-based model in particular, would be the obstacle in further enabling social organisation and social work profession. 
  • policy design,
  • policy capacity,
  • policy instrument,
  • purchase-of-services,
  • China
Publication Date
February 15, 2017
Citation Information
Zhuoyi WEN. "Government Purchase of Services in China: Similar Intentions, Different Policy Designs" Public Administration and Development Vol. 37 Iss. 1 (2017) p. 65 - 78
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