Local Cadres as Strategic Groups

The subproject „Local Cadres as Strategic Groups“ inquires into political deliberation and strategic action of leading county and township cadres in China by means of empirical policy research (i.e. social - , environmental-, cultural- and fiscal policy).


County and township cadres are of utmost importance in the Chinese transformation process – a fact which has rarely been researched so far. It is the local cadres who decide about the central state’s success to maintain social stability and regime loyalty among China’s peasants. What kind of rationality do local cadres follow when they carry out central policies? What are their concrete strategies and why do they choose exactly these? Do they act in coordination? And which (measurable) impact does their action have on state capacity and regime legitimacy in rural China?


By systematically comparing local policy implementation and evaluation in different counties and townships the subproject aims at answering these questions. Furthermore, it intends to contribute to an understanding of the political development in contemporary China, particularly with regard to the adaptability of the political system facing new social challenges.


The subproject follows a comparative research project conducted by Thomas Heberer and Gunter Schubert since 2008. The focus of this project has been the role of county and township cadres in “Building a New Socialist Countryside” (a government program that promotes comprehensive local development). The subproject aims at a successive deepening of knowledge on local political processes in rural China by means of comparative research over a prolonged stretch of time.