Sarah Brown & Elizabeth Koebele
Welcome to our virtual issue featuring scholarship on Asia published in Policy & Politics in the last two years. We have a strong body of work surfacing a range of policy issues in the region with wider relevance as well and look forward to receiving similar submissions in the future!
As part of our focus on Asia, Policy & Politics is proud to be an official partner of the Annual Conference of the Asian Association for Public Administration (APPA 2022) in Shanghai, China on 3-4 December 2022. If you are presenting your work there, please consider submitting your final paper to Policy & Politics.
So, onto our first featured article: The dynamic role of governments in adopting policy innovations in China (2021) by Biao Huang and Felix Wiebrecht. The authors investigate why higher-levels of government in China intervene proactively in some local innovations, but only offer their backing in others. They find that the difference depends on who assumes ownership or the ‘innovation copyright,’ and that this can therefore set expectations over vertical interactions among governments.
From policy innovation, we turn next to the dynamics of international food regulation in China (2021). Author May Chu finds that, although the Chinese state remains authoritarian in relation to food regulation, it is also pragmatic and flexible, which makes it more responsive to demands from the international community and results in a more ‘endurable authoritarianism’.
Our third featured article has a different focus again – what motivates street-level bureaucrats to implement the reforms of elected politicians? (2021). Authors Don S. Lee and Soonae Park show how the behaviour of bureaucrats in South Korea is shaped by, and changes with, street-level factors, such as individual policy dispositions and perceptions of personal discretion in implementation. Drawing on interviews with civil servants, their analysis provides insights into the conditions under which street-level bureaucrats are more likely to respond to elected politicians’ policy change, as opposed to abiding by existing rules. Given the level of interest in bureaucratic discretion in our field, especially related to expertise, this paper is bound to make a splash!
Our fourth featured article looks at how partisan politics influences government policies in response to ageing populations. In contrast to the prevailing view, authors Yesola Kweon and Kohei Suzuki find that partisan politics does matter in determining the modes of policy provision in response to an ageing population. Overall, their findings show that left-leaning governing parties are more likely to rely on public benefits while conservative parties rely more on private systems. Their findings challenge the prevailing view that partisanship has little impact on life course-related policy decisions, demonstrating that it does in fact influence governments’ choice of policy measures.
Continuing the theme of the impact of policies on citizens, our fifth article explores the implications of COVID-19 for concepts and practices of citizenship. Through this theme, authors Jae M. Moon and B. Shine Cho consider how members of the public influence – and are influenced by – policy-making processes. Specifically, they analyse the evolving definitions of citizenship and argue that citizens now play a more active role in addressing wicked problems, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our sixth and final article explores the question how do policy transfer mechanisms influence policy outcomes in the context of authoritarianism? Author Hang Duong investigates this in the context of Vietnam. Her findings show that civil service reforms in merit-based policies are influenced by both Western and Asian models of meritocracy. These are important because they develop arguments about an “Asian way” of policy transfer characterised by adaptive learning and pragmatic considerations. In summary, Duong shows the way Vietnamese policymakers manoeuvre between different policy models through translation and assemblage. This demonstrates the nuances and dynamics of policy transfer and supports the need for more focus on transfer mechanisms and their policy outcomes.
We hope you enjoy this collection of our recent published scholarship on policy issues in Asia.
Biao Huang and Felix Wiebrecht (2021). The dynamic role of governments in adopting policy innovations in China. Policy & Politics.
May Chu (2020). The limits to the internationalisation of regulation: divergent enforcement strategies in China’s food safety regulation. Policy & Politics.
Don S. Lee and Soonae Park (2020). What motivates street-level bureaucrats to implement the reforms of elected politicians? Policy & Politics.
Yesola Kweon and Kohei Suzuki (2022). How partisan politics influence government policies in response to ageing populations. Policy & Politics.
Hang Duong (2022). How do policy transfer mechanisms influence policy outcomes in the context of authoritarianism in Vietnam? Policy & Politics.
M. Jae Moon and B. Shine Cho (2022). The implications of COVID-19 for concepts and practices of citizenship. Policy & Politics.
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