Policy-oriented learning and opening up : the case of China in transition

  • Yanzhe Zhang

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis aims to make a theoretical, empirical and prescriptive contribution to the contemporary study of policy transfer. In the first regard, it observes that despite bold claims to the contrary (see Dolowitz and Marsh,1996; and Evans,ed.,2010),most studies of policy transfer are characterised by their mono-cultural understanding of the process of policy-oriented learning reflected in an obsession with the destination of transfer rather than its original policy setting or settings. This betrays an absence of strong comparative investigation of the process of learning. Moreover, existing approaches to the study of policy transfer networks (the process of policy learning) are limited by their narrow epistemological perspectives as in the main they tend to lend undue focus on actors, ideas/interests or structure. Following the work of Marsh and Smith on policy networks (2000),this thesis contends that these elements cannot be separately analyzed. It therefore advances an interactive model of policy transfer networks that investigates the process of learning through three interactive dimensions: between structure and agents, network and context, and network and outcome. This brings me to the thesis’s second main contribution – the presentation of original case study explorations of the role of policy transfer in facilitating the rise of the Quasi- Competition State. The thesis contends that policy transfer has become a key policy instrument in the process of transition from a command to a market socialist economy. Indeed, in order to meet the perceived imperatives of state transformation, the ‘Reform and Open Door’ policy has been featured by a broad range of processes of policy learning. It is, however, beyond the scope of this thesis to present a comprehensive description and explanation of this complex and multi-faceted reform process, rather the aim of this account is to provide an examination of certain processes of policy transfer which are broadly indicative of the dynamics of change underpinning the incremental process of reform. The third and final contribution of this thesis lies in its identification of the ingredients of rational policy transfer which can hopefully help guide future Chinese policy-makers to more progressive policy outcomes.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMark Evans (Supervisor) & Chris Aulich (Supervisor)

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