Policy ethnography and conservative transition from plan to market

Adam Fforde (Asia Institute, University of Melbourne, Ivanhoe East, Australia)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Publication date: 8 May 2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to illuminate change processes in Vietnam, China, and the USSR.

Design/methodology/approach

“Policy ethnography” may be used to examine the emergence of policy rationalities that may or may not be locally feasible. Through the use of a conceptual heuristics to interpret practice, this paper contrasts approaches in the development of “conservative” transition rationalities suited to the shift from plan to market whilst retaining a ruling Communist Party in power. Comparison is made between Vietnam, where a successful “conservative” transition occurred, and a failed policy experiment in the Soviet Union. The discussion extends to China, where, as in the case of Vietnam, a policy‐oriented policy rationality of transition may be observed.

Findings

Through the use of a conceptual heuristics to interpret practice this paper, contrasts approaches in the development of “conservative” transition rationalities suited to the shift from plan to market whilst retaining a ruling Communist Party in power. Comparison is made between Vietnam, where a successful “conservative” transition occurred, and a failed policy experiment in the Soviet Union. The discussion extends to China, where, as in the case of Vietnam, a policy‐oriented policy rationality of transition may be observed.

Research limitations/implications

Further research into the development of conservative policy rationalities in other context is advised.

Practical implications

The paper concludes that attaining a successful heuristics amongst policy consumers is likely a necessary condition of a managed conservative transition, and that this heuristics does well to define system changes as a process, rather than a discrete step, in constructing a cognitive basis for policy rationality.

Originality/value

The paper consistently avoids realist arguments about policy, which would suggest judgments as to whether policy is “correct” or “incorrect”, and focuses upon the creation of policy rationalities.

Keywords

Citation

Fforde, A. (2009), "Policy ethnography and conservative transition from plan to market", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 36 No. 6, pp. 659-678. https://doi.org/10.1108/03068290910956903

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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