All Shorenstein APARC Publications Journal Articles Management and Organization Review

Chinese Bureaucracy Through Three Lenses: Weberian, Confucian, and Marchian

Chinese bureaucracy, with its long history and distinctive characteristics, has provided the organizational basis of governance and played a pivotal role in the economic takeoff in recent decades. Chinese bureaucracy also shows intriguing dualism between entrepreneurial activism and bureaucratic inertia, between formal rules and informal institutions, and between high responsiveness and noticeable loose coupling.

This study explores these distinctive features of Chinese bureaucracy through three lenses: Weber's comparative-historical approach helps locate Chinese bureaucracy in a distinct mode of domination; the Confucian lens identifies the prevalence of informal institutions that underlie bureaucratic behaviors; and the Marchian lens sheds light on the organized anarchy and set of mechanisms that shape the key characteristics of Chinese bureaucracy.