Learning by Doing: the case of administrative policy transfer in China

Yanzhe Zhang, David MARSH

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores of the role of policy transfer in facilitating the rise and consolidation of the ‘Reform and Open Door Policy' in China. It builds upon the seminal Dolowitz and Marsh [Dolowitz, D., and D. Marsh. 1996. “Who Learns What From Whom: A Review of the Policy Transfer Literature.” Political Studies 44: 343–357; Dolowitz, D., and D. Marsh. 2000. “Learning from Abroad: The Role of Policy Transfer in Contemporary Policy-Making.” Governance 13 (1): 5–23] framework to provide an examination of processes of administrative policy transfer which it argues are broadly indicative of the dynamics of change underpinning the incremental process of reform. It is observed that the reforms under study have not been characterized by rational policy design underpinned by evidence-based policy-making in which issues of cultural assimilation were emphasized. Rather, the implementation process itself has been used to affect processes of adaptation. Policy transfer in China can best be described as learning by doing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-52
Number of pages18
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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