SOLVITUR AMBULANDO - From Policy Intent to Actions : Policy Innovation for the Higher Education Test and Admission System in China
The present thesis titled “SOLVITUR AMBULANDO – From Policy Intent to Actions: Policy Innovation for Higher Education Test and Admission System in China”, deals with a policy analysis in the field of admission policies by applying the process tracing method. The policy under investigation is the top-level designed policy innovation for China’s higher education test and admission system in 2014 – “Opinions of the State Council on Deepening Reform to Examinations and Admission System”. Higher education admission policy is sensitive in China, as the party state must handle the sharp contradiction between egalitarian and meritocratic values in designing the selection system that is closely related to one’s upward mobility.The primary concern of the study is to understand how the policy innovation is designed and implemented to adjust the allocation system of study places in accordance with national goals as well as diverse public interests. The theoretical framework of the study derives from three lines of literatures: policy implementation studies in China, implementation theory and organizational behavior. The research solves the problem of “moving target” in implementation studies by focusing on the process of “from policy intent to actions”. It does not evaluate the successfulness of the policy innovation, instead, it aims to provide a new theoretical foundation to explain the causation of implementation behavior patterns in authoritarian China. By analyzing the content factors (type of policy, envisioned changes, affected interest groups and intended implementers) and the context factors (institutional constraints, steering instruments and resources), the research argues that the local implementation behaviors for the admission policy innovation is to be conceptualized as “tactic policy implementation”, which was a result of the causal process of the modification and compression of the discretion space at the local level. Tactics differ from the strategies in the sense that the tactics contains a set of calculus of the players with constrained and limited discretion power. And tactic implementers play defensively and passively in reaction to decisions from other players.
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