Introduction: Leadership in a Changing China

  • Weixing Chen
  • Yang Zhong


Change is probably the most operative word in political science. Indeed it can be argued that political science studies center around differences or variance (to use a social science jargon). Two major questions concerning political and social changes are how and when they will occur. Over 20 years ago Valerie Bunce published a provocative book entitled Do New Leaders Make a Difference? Executive Succession and Public Policy under Capitalism and Socialism. In the book she studied the impact of leadership succession on changes in public policies through a comparison of the United States and former Soviet bloc countries. Bunce found remarkable similarities between the two systems with regard to policy changes resulting from leadership changes. Bunce argued that

In both systems succession involves ambition, conflict, the airing of issues, the eventual victory of one candidate over another, and policy change once the honeymoon interacts with the campaign experience. The essence of the process—its impact and its logic—would seem to be very similar, East and West.1


Foreign Policy World Trade Organization Chinese Communist Party Democratic Progressive Party Institution Building 
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  1. 1.
    Valerie Bunce, Do New Leaders Make a Difference? Executive Succession and Public Policy under Capitalism and Socialism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981), p. 240.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    New institutionalism has been fairly popular among political scientists in recent years. For a complete discussion of the various versions of new institutional theories in political science, see B. Guy Peters, New Institutional Theories in Political Science: The New Institutionalism’ (New York: Printer, 1999).Google Scholar

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© Weixing Chen and Yang Zhong 2005

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  • Weixing Chen
  • Yang Zhong

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