East Asia

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 59–77 | Cite as

Reassessing the Performance Evaluation System in the Xi Jinping Era: Changes and Implications

  • Zhen Wang


Existing literature on China’s Performance Evaluation System and how it shapes cadre behavior tends to assume a hierarchy of work targets either through the framework of soft targets, hard targets, and priority targets with veto power or through target measurability. However, this traditional conceptualization of target hierarchy can no longer capture the nature of content of today’s Performance Evaluation System nor can it explain cadre behavior under the new economic and political order imposed by Xi Jinping. Based on field research conducted in various administrative level localities of four provinces during 2014, 2016, and 2017, I argue that today’s Performance Evaluation System has evolved into an increasingly balanced system driven by three prevailing features: the diminishing hard/soft targets dichotomy, the much more constrained power of priority targets with veto power, and the comprehensive quantification of evaluation targets. This study contributes to an updated understanding of the incentive mechanism of the Performance Evaluation System and how that can help explain cadre behavior today. The findings of the research have important political and economic implications on the Xi administration and the Communist Party.


Cadre Performance Evaluation Target Incentive Personnel 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and International RelationsMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA

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