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Why Good Bureaucracies Aren't Always Best--International Security & Development Lecture

Friday, February 1, 2013
12:00 AM
Michigan League Kalamazoo Room

The establishment of “good” bureaucracies is commonly seen as a prerequisite of economic development, particularly among state-directed economies. But are good bureaucracies, as conventionally defined, always the best option? How can poor countries acquire good bureaucracies if they lack resources to replicate institutions of the rich? I address these questions through China’s anomalous reform experience, where local developmental states seem to flourish without conventionally competent and non-corrupt Weberian agencies.

Free & Open to the Public. Reception to follow.

Yuen Yuen Ang (assistant professor in political science) has been named a CICS International Security and Development Fellow for 2012-2013. She studies states, bureaucracies, and development in developing countries, focusing on China. Her main project examines how imperfect bureaucratic institutions—which look "corrupt" to outsiders—may actually serve to facilitate reform and development among transitional economies.

She has done extensive field work in China, gathering over 300 interviews with official and street level bureaucrats across regions and sectors. Extending from her book, her other research projects examine how state and businesses interact, regulatory behavior, and fiscal sustainability. She received the Andrew Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Early Career Fellowships in two consecutive years from 2009-2011.

Professor Ang is teaching a course for CICS entitled “Development and the Quality of Governance." She will deliver a public lecture on “Why ‘Good’ Bureaucracies Aren’t Always Best: Unorthodox Lessons from China,” and her article, Developmental or Predatory? Understanding the State’s Paradoxical Economic Role in Local China will appear in a forthcoming issue of the International Institute’s II Journal.