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Are The “Bigger Fish” Caught? China’s Experience Of Engaging Citizens In Performance Measurement System

PAQ, Vol. 37 No. 2, (2013)

The central and prefecture governments in China have promoted the diffusion of citizen based performance measurement, and anticipated its effect in enhancing public accountability. This article examines the relevancy of this claim by examining a policy experiment in Shanghai Municipality during 2004-2011. The features of the citizen participation accountability mechanism and its effects on boosting public accountability are examined. It is found that the development of this system is driven by bureaucratic interests, which impede citizenry to exert influence on the process and outcomes of the accountability practices. The findings also show that public organizations evade the accountability pressure, and that the mechanism has yet exerted salient accountability pressure on the organizations prone to performance problems. These issues render the securitization strength of the experiment to be diluted. To remedy, public administrators in China should change the performance culture of the public sectors, empower citizens and enhance their capacity, change the way subjective performance measures are used, and link citizen engagement with comprehensive public management reform.

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