Compared with the worldwide reform trend of transcending new public management (NPM) during the past two decades, China's service-oriented government (SOG) reforms are a relatively different reform approach. After building an SOG was politically identified in 2004, China launched three rounds of SOG reforms in 2008, 2013 and 2018. The purpose of this article is to examine what is meant by China's SOG approach and analyze the reasons behind its emergence. In particular, it explores how this approach might be interpreted in NPM, and particularly post-NPM terms.
The main theoretical basis of the paper is three theoretical perspectives from organizational theory – the instrumental, cultural and myth perspectives, but more specifically, the concepts complexity and hybridity. The empirical examples are selected from the SOG reforms of 2008, 2013 and 2018. The data used are a combination of public documents and scholarly secondary literature.
This paper discusses the SOG approach in China as a response to the negative effects of NPM-related reforms and informed by the western post-NPM reforms. It contends that China's SOG is a complex and hybrid approach in which NPM and post-NPM elements coexist and their balance is different from the west.
Few authors have considered China's SOG approach in NPM and post-NPM terms. This paper contributes not only to a wider understanding of the ongoing SOG reform process in China, but also to the understanding of the relevance of public administration theories in a comparative perspective.
Tian, X. and Christensen, T. (2020), "Ambiguous hybridity? Main features of China's service-oriented government reform", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-09-2019-0241Download as .RIS
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