Yingyao Wang | Review of International Political Economy
Existing studies of state-led industrial development argue that state autonomy is essential for formulating consistent and coherent industrial policies. This article shows that autonomous bureaucracy, while useful for fending off the politics of interest groups, is not free of politics in itself. Using Chinese industrial policy-making as a strategic case study, this article uncovers the competitive dimension of bureaucratic decision-making and the extent to which it serves as a driving force for industrial policy paradigm change in China. Equipped with a theory of policy articulation, this article details the strategies used by multiple superagencies and groups of career bureaucrats to vie for industrial policy authority within the Chinese state. In sum, this article seeks to expose the role of intrabureaucracy competition in mediating international political economic environment and national policy outcomes. Looking forward, this article proposes that the renewed focus on industrial policy by many national governments compels an analytical re-engagement with the role of large bureaucracies in economic decision-making and the kind of organizational and cognitive frameworks by which bureaucrats mobilize to chart our industrial landscapes.