Journal of Chinese Political Science

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 145–159 | Cite as

The Evolution of Chinese Administrative Studies: Where Is the Field of Chinese Administrative Science Headed?

  • King W. Chow
  • Zhihang Xu
  • Mingyue WenEmail author
Review Essay


Is Public Administration (PA) as a field of study a basic science? If not, could PA generally and Chinese PA (CPA) in particular become a basic science or a design science? To address these questions, this essay reviews pertinent literature to underscore the major problems, basic deficiencies, and critical issues of CPA, and then reviews ongoing CPA research to shed light on its future development. Our review shows that PA lacks an intellectual core that defines the nature of public administration as a professional practice, and in turn, the nature of PA as an academic discipline. Further, while CPA bears the same deficiencies, it also suffers from three maladies, namely, reductionism, traditionalism, and conservatism, which together reinforce mediocrity. In view of all these issues and problems, where CPA is headed? Our literature review reports some ongoing research breakthroughs in CPA, including ontological confirmation of public administration nature and identification of necessary conditions for effective administrative results, which form a basis to suggest that CPA may become a basic science and design science.


Administrative science Chinese public administration Design science Ontology Optimal governance 



The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewer and the associate Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Chinese Political Science, Jessica Teets, for their helpful comments and suggestions on the essay. We bear sole responsibility for the arguments advanced in the essay. This project (Code # 2016 M601780) is funded by the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public AdministrationSichuan UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.School of GovernmentNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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