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Service-Oriented Government in Practice: A Case of Construction of Nanjing Community

Ying Liang, Social Work and Social Policy Department,
School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nanjing University, China

Abstract

China’s reform and opening up and socialist market economy in-depth developing have induced civic consciousness waking and democratic degree deepening, and then China government has to strengthen the social management and public services. Therefore, the practice and exploration of service-oriented government construction has been launched in China. This paper mainly inspects the status for the local service-oriented government construction and variety of influencing factors by the case of Nanjing. And the results indicate that China government have opened freedom and democracy with the service theory and start the construction of service-oriented government based on the local values in practice.

1. Introduction

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has led the Chinese people in successfully opening up the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Along this road, China government developed and improved the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, and promoted the exercise of administrative functions in accordance with the services in all respects, e.g. the reform of the judicial system, the mechanism of restraint of and supervision over the use of power, the guarantee of citizens’ lawful rights and interests, social harmony and stability, and institutionalization of all work.

In the public forum activities of China, government officials also hope to hear the truth from the general public that the voices are from the bottom of the general public’s hearts, which undoubtedly is of most importance to the construction of a vibrant and progressive city and an efficient government. Ying Liang (2008) said that the “Citizen Forum” was a very beautiful landscape among all the political and cultural life of Nanjing citizens.

Nanjing has made great progress to construct service-oriented government, whose reform movement is bottom-up, spontaneous construction, initial success and initially experienced. Service-oriented government will promote China government to achieve better transformation. This paper proposes an analytical framework and rationale to establish innovation policies and discusses the framework alternatives for service-oriented government. Specific service characteristics and specific service innovation need a specific solution, so this paper proposes a service policy based on service innovation being considered as a systemic dimension useful for any kind of service-oriented government in China.

2. Theories

Brief review of related literature. The dominant finding by government-focused researchers is that public-sector productivity has not kept pace with that of the private sector (Lancer Julnes de & Holzer, 2001; Mandel, 2003; Williams, 2003). Insights have been gained about the various dimensions of public-sector productivity and the value of productivity improvement to society (Coggburn & Schneider, 2003), yet effective improvement strategies have proven to be elusive. There are many more statistics indicating that although China is a lower-middle-income country, it outperforms a number of other countries in its class in relation to the basic economic, social, and cultural indicators (Randall, 2005). In recent years, the Chinese government has further transformed its functions and stepped up the building of a government under the rule of law by strengthening its self-improvement.

This approach is further strengthened by the current promotion of a harmonious society by President Hu as outlined in his address to leading Party officials and major provincial- and ministerial-level leaders when addressing a high-level Party seminar in February 2005, “A harmonious society should feature democracy, the rule of law, equity, justice, sincerity, amity and vitality’’ (Xinhua, 2005).

The 11th economic and social development plan is expected to enshrine President Hu Jintao’s drive to build a ‘‘harmonious society’’ by narrowing the gap between rich and poor and curbing widespread environmental degradation (China Daily, 2005)

This study builds upon the solid foundation of established service-oriented theory and knowledge, and provides concrete support for reform actions to enhance government service.

Marx’ theory on the full and free development of the individual. Marx said: ”Here, everyone’s free development is the condition of all development .” According to Marx’ views, it is good to establish a full development government that people’ house is necessary to be created and built based on the socialist system and dictator ship of the proletariat. In China, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao inherited and practiced Marx’ theory on the full and free development of the individual in different historic periods, and then they enriched and improved the theory on the full and free development of the individual with new period meaning. Mao Zedong with his people overthrew the oppression to liberate the people so that China could achieve the full and free development of the individual. However, Deng Xiaoping thought that poorness was not the aim of socialism, and he thought China must build the center of economic construction to accumulate material base. Jiang Zemin made the propose on Three Representatives of Thoughts, which asked China to construct socialist material civilization, socialist political civilization, socialist spiritual civilization. Hu Jintao thought that China need to build well-off society, and to establish, practise and develop sustainable scientific concept of development.

Socialist democracy theory. Social democracy theory is the developed result of Marx’s democracy theory in China.

Mao Zedong indicated that socialist democracy was the democracy of people, and he also said socialist democracy not only need centralism, but also need democracy in China. And Deng Xiaoping inherited Mao Zedong’ democracy thoughts and proposed socialist democracy system, and he also said that China need government management democratization, and economic management democratization, and overall social activities democratization.

Jiang Zemin said that China Communist Party mobilized and organized people to manage state and society affaires, and any local government or organization can not surpass the restraint of constitution and laws.

The theory to serve with people. The theory to serve for people is the basis of modern Marx’s government management theory, which inherits and improves the theory in China. That is also based on the construction of service-oriented government. In China’s different periods, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao all proposed their own thoughts together with China’s history and the actual situation, for example: “to serve for the people whole-heatedly”, the leader’s tasks were the services, three-representatives thoughts, governing for the people etc. Government should focus on basic public products and services with the demands of people. China’s theory to serve for the people was thoric and spiritual basis on the construction of services-oriented government.

According to the thoughts of citizen standard and social standard, service-oriented government undertook the responsibility of serve for the people in modern China based on the citizen service, which represented the public consciousness, sense equity, and cooperative consciousness, sense of dedication and sense of the benefits for people.

New public service theory. New public service theory combined with public service, democracy management and citizen participation, which thought citizens were the responsibility of pubic basis.

And, we can say the new public service theory is built on the public benefits, and the relationship between administration staff and citizen. It is center on the citizen that people are the first in a area or country. The thought of citizens priority will encourage the government to focus on the willingness of citizens’, then the government should serve the people. In China, new public service theory expressed a new focus on the democracy value, and the government should achieve overall action through democracy mechanism. Therefore, this theory provides a direct resource of theory basis for service-oriented government.

Service-oriented government in China. Service-oriented government is a new model of government, and the result combined with Marx’s governmental theory and China’s socialist construction between market economy and democracy, which is a good choice to improve socialist market economic mechanism. In China, the construction of service-oriented government has related into governmental thoughts, mechanism and system, which is a overall constructed building to represent China’s characteristically thoughts deeply.

The theoretical foundation and guiding thoughts of service-oriented government is Marx’s thoughts. Marxism governmental theory and practice are the theoretical foundation of the management and reformation on the service-oriented government. It is insisted that Marxism governmental theory is governmental foundation and guiding ideology, which is then in accordance with the valued pursuit of China and understands various measurements in the process of building service-oriented government.

The core values and essence of service-oriented government are the services for the people. “Serve the people” is a consistent belief to rule the country in China. In modern periods, people-oriented thought was the basic demand of China’ communist party. Therefore, Chinese government need represent its essence and core values based on the good services and work achievement.

And the basic function of service-oriented government should provide public service. The core functions and principal characters establish basic public service system through strengthening public service function rely on the principle of equation. One is to increase the total of public services, and provide more and better public services for all members of the society, and the other is to optimize the structure and layout of public services so as to expand the coverage of public products and services.

Service-oriented government is the unity of responsibility, rule by law and cheapness. In the framework of socialist democracy order, government must make administration and provide public services based on the people’s willingness through the objectives to serve for people by legal proceeding. Service-oriented government must insist the administration according to the laws that put laws into practice to manage state affairs. At the same time, this government must have administration in highly active and probity so as to reduce the administrative costs.

In a word, service-oriented government has a essence and core values rely on serving for the people through the guiding of Marxism governmental theory, so which is a people’s government based on main functions, e.g. public products and services, and is organic unity together with responsibility, cheapness and laws.

3. Data and methods

The data of this paper was mainly from a survey report 2008 in Nanjing called “behavioral intention of trust and the resident involved in community volunteer services” with urban and rural communities. The source wer districts (counties); streets; villages. 1000 questionnaires were issued, while returned 776 questionnaires (percentage: 77.6%). There were 708 valid questionnaires (percentage: 70.8%). Abstention of 68 questionnaires.

Sampling. It is stratified simple random sampling method. And it is interval random sampling method and system (equidistant) sampling method.

Benefits Analysis Method. Benefits analysis method is the most one of Marxism methodologies, and Marx thought that the benefits were the motive-reasons of all the social movements of contradictions. Therefore, we used “Benefits Analysis Method” to understand governmental administration management. The forms of internal contradictions on the benefits decide the characters of political rights, and the combination forms of political rights and benefits represent social benefits standards, and whether the society is justice and civilization. Various social institutions, administrative system and laws establish social benefits configuration and maintain it.

In China, benefits analysis method had been the basis of theory on the establishment of public policies and regulations by the government. Whether to coordinate the relationship between people’s internal contradictions and benefits well would test the management capabilities and levels. Thus, government had the responsibility to use useful methods (e.g. propaganda, enlighten, guiding and moral encouragement) to coordinate different benefits relationships so as to guarantee the stead of economic order and social order. In the process of China’ 30-years reformation, the government have been in the different contradictions together with public benefits and individual benefits. And the government need expand the constructions of socialist democracy and politic, and strengthen, restrict the operation of governmental rights, which would guarantee governmental public rights to serve for the people.

4. Results

Political environment. Currently, it has been recognized that the political environment for Chinese government working on service has generally been expanding since the economy had had better development. There have been strong political statements from senior government. The government’s formal recognition of the role of civil society can be highlighted by multiple statements made by senior government officials. The basic tasks of the political work are as follows: ensuring the success of the reform and opening-up of the country and the building of a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, as well as promoting the socialist modernization; advancing the revolution in military affairs with Chinese features.

Survey Results. Factor analysis of Nanjing’s resident rating scale: (1) KMOKaiser-Meyer-Olkin): 0.892>0.7; Bartlett's chi-square test value: 3235.497; degrees of freedom (DF):10; significance level (Sig): 0.000<0.001. Therefore, that was suitable to have factor analysis. (2) Two factors extracted principally, and the cumulative variance proportion was 88.353%, and the effect was thought well.

There were two common factors after Varimax orthogonal rotation. One was service factor that represented pubic services for residents from Nanjing’s government. The other was communication factor that promote the exchange between Nanjing’s government and residents. And that was shown in tab. 1.

Tab. 1. Rotated Component Matrix

Rotated Component Matrix(a)

Component

Service

factor

Communication factor

Sum

Nanjing government has implemented a variety of convenient services on the city streets and township, e.g. the chief supermarket, administrative service center etc. Do you think whether that has important role to improve government’s services quality?

0.384

0.892

0.943

Nanjing Government has organized many activities, e.g. procedure park, public forums, etc. Do you think whether that has important role in the communication, exchanges, cooperation and interaction between the government officials and the mass?

0.583

0.726

0.867

Nanjing government has implemented a variety of convenient services on the city streets and township, e.g. the chief supermarket, administrative service center, etc. Do you think whether that has important role to improve government’s services quality?

0.780

0.501

0.859

Nanjing have vigorously promoted the open government affairs, conducted the ‘six openings’ of affairs content, procedures, authority, result, fees and charges; and established the decision-making hearings and publicity system, notification system and communication system. What you think about these initiatives’ role in promoting the construction of service-oriented government?

0.866

0.382

0.895

What do you think is the role of Nanjing’s service-oriented government building in its democratic political reform?

0.821

0.423

0.853

cumulative variance proportion %

50.378

37.975

88.353

Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.

a. Rotation converged in 3 iterations.

Source: own elaboration.

Tab. 2. Variety of convenient services from Nanjing government

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

I had not heard of it.

194

27.4

27.4

27.4

It had no effect.

71

10.0

10.0

37.5

It was just so-so.

205

29.0

29.0

66.5

It played a certain role.

189

26.7

26.7

93.2

It played an important role.

48

6.8

6.8

100.0

Total

707

99.9

100.0

Missing

System

1

0.1

Total

708

100.0

Source: own elaboration.

In the report, there was a question called “Do you think whether this measure that Nanjing Government has established a government portal and the local county website has play an active role in the communication, exchanges, cooperation and interaction between the government officials and the mass?” , then the results were as follows: unheard percentage was 25.2%, and invalid percentage was 14.3%, and simple effect percentage was 30.1%, and better and best effects were respectively 27.6% and 2.8%. And the results suggested that there were some residents that had not confidence in strengthening the communication, exchanges, cooperation and interaction between the government officials and the mass through the establishment of the government portal and the local county websites. Therefore, the internet projects of country and village had to be established. There was other question called “Did you think whether this measure that Nanjing government had held many activities called public forum since 2002 had played an active role in the communication, exchanges, cooperation and interaction between the government officials and the mass?”, then better and best effects were respectively 22.1% and 5.7%., and simple effect percentage was 31.9%, and unheard percentage was 27.8%, and invalid percentage was 12.6%. In a word, the communication and dialogue were brought into effects between public and Nanjing government. In the report, three variables of service factor were analyzed by Nanjing’s residents. And there were the list of services items talked about the effect to improve the service quality of Nanjing’s government for the convenience on the chief supermarket, administrative service center, one-stop service and joint service etc. in tab. 2.

One factor analysis of variance on the evaluation of the construction of Nanjing’s service government from age and residents was shown in tab. 3. The results indicated resident’s typical value of evaluation for the construction of Nanjing’s service-oriented government was significant different in terms of different age groups.

Tab. 3. ANOVA of residents’ trust of the Nanjing government in different age groups

Age

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error

95% Confidence Interval

for Mean

Lower Bound

Upper Bound

18-19

35

3.1543

0.99657

0.16845

2.8120

3.4966

20-29

143

3.1972

0.88174

0.07373

3.0514

3.3430

30-39

167

3.1832

1.03608

0.08017

3.0249

3.3415

40-49

151

2.6464

1.10814

0.09018

2.4682

2.8245

50-59

129

2.0992

1.06364

0.09365

1.9139

2.2845

60 and over

77

2.4416

1.18426

0.13496

2.1728

2.7104

Total

702

2.7886

1.12433

0.04244

2.7053

2.8719

F=23.544; df=5; P=0.000<0.001

Source: own elaboration.

Tab. 4. ANOVA of residents’ trust of the Nanjing government in different income groups

Income (Yuan)

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error

95% Confidence Interval

for Mean

Lower Bound

Upper Bound

500 and below

83

2.0024

0.96094

0.10548

1.7926

2.2122

501-1000

111

2.0396

1.03426

0.09817

1.8451

2.2342

1001-1500

126

2.4571

1.05644

0.09412

2.2709

2.6434

1501-2000

107

2.9364

0.94314

0.09118

2.7557

3.1172

2001-3000

92

2.9870

0.82425

0.08593

2.8163

3.1577

3001-4000

58

3.3310

0.97876

0.12852

3.0737

3.5884

4001-5000

47

3.8383

0.88528

0.12913

3.5784

4.0982

5001-6000

41

3.8244

0.57131

0.08922

3.6441

4.0047

6001and above

39

3.6359

0.77849

0.12466

3.3835

3.8883

Total

704

2.7889

1.12514

0.04241

2.7057

2.8722

F=38.688; df=8; P=0.000<0.001

Source: own elaboration.

Three age groups of 40-49, 50-59, and 60 years and over had relatively low sense of government design and construction. In other words, young groups were relatively better than that.

The analysis of variance on the evaluation of the construction of Nanjing’s service government from monthly profit and residents was shown in tab. 4. The results indicated resident’s typical value of evaluation for the construction of Nanjing’s service-oriented government was significant different in terms of different monthly income. In other word, once residents had better income, they would have better evaluation for Nanjing’s building of service-oriented government.

The analysis of multiple regressions on the evaluation of the construction of Nanjing’s service government from different contextual variable (gender, age, education, income, occupation, political landscape and residential areas) was shown in tab. 5. R2=42.8% (The model’s explanatory power) indicated the independent variable had a relatively large impact on the residents’ evaluation of Nanjing’s building of service-oriented government for dependent variable. In addition, age, income, education, non-party and suburbs had more significant impact than other background variables on the resident’s evaluation of Nanjing’s building of service-oriented government from the regression model in all background variables.

5. Discussion

Construction of democratic discourse. It was found that the full realization of the democratic discourse seems to be “Utopian” ideal-type in the current background of many subjective and objective constraints from the above empirical discourse analysis on the process of democratic practice in the construction of service-oriented government in Nanjing. However, the government should pay more attention to the residents’ variety of important background factors which had important influence with the construction of policy democracy discourse if the government decided to promote the democracy discourse in the construction of Nanjing’s service-oriented government in China.

Tab. 5. Multiple regression analysis on the influencing factors of residents (Method: Enter)

Coefficients(a)

Model

Unstandardized
Coefficients

Standardized

Coefficients

t

Sig.

B

Std. Error

Beta

(Constant)

1.858

0.336

5.535

0.000

Gender

0.086

0.069

0.038

1.240

0.215

Age

-0.012

0.004

-0.142

-3.107

0.002

Education

0.115

0.015

0.378

7.558

0.000

Monthly income (thousand Yuan)

0.065

0.027

0.115

2.371

0.018

Occupation

Junior and senior staff of enterprises

0.128

0.195

0.028

0.655

0.513

Officials of party and government organs

0.267

0.188

0.067

1.420

0.156

Professionals & technical

0.229

0.184

0.061

1.243

0.214

Private entrepreneur

0.261

0.221

0.046

1.178

0.239

Third industry workers

-0.022

0.207

-0.005

-0.107

0.915

Individual operator

0.091

0.224

0.018

0.406

0.685

Workers

0.226

0.194

0.069

1.165

0.244

Farming, forestry, husbandry and fishing workers

0.186

0.211

0.052

0.879

0.379

Students

0.240

0.229

0.058

1.047

0.296

Retirees

0.186

0.203

0.049

0.915

0.361

Lay-offs

-0.006

0.223

-0.001

-0.026

0.979

Others

0.003

0.228

0.000

0.013

0.990

Politics status a

League member

-0.222

0.143

-0.071

-1.553

0.121

Democratic party

-0.136

0.151

-0.030

-0.900

0.368

Person with no political affiliation

-0.452

0.111

-0.198

-4.088

0.000

Residential time

0.004

0.005

0.029

0.822

0.412

Residential region b

Rural

-0.177

0.074

-0.078

-2.379

0.018

Urban

-0.052

0.106

-0.017

-0.489

0.625

R=0.668; R2=0.446; R2=0.428; standard error of estimate =0.85150

F=24.83; df=22; P=0.000

a. Dependent Variable: residents’ of evaluation of Nanjing’s building of service-oriented government

a referents: communists b referents: urban areas

Source: own elaboration.

Strengthen the construction of grassroots’ democracy had a important significance to impel the development of China’s political democracy in grassroots. Currently, China need to strengthen local governmental organization building and autonomous organization building of masses. Therefore, China should establish service-oriented government to serve for the people through necessary measurements such as improvement of selection, administration affaires public, culture the autonomy of community. Nanjing government cultured the democracy consciousness and practices through improving the system of grassroots autonomy, which had a long-term, important significance for China’s democracy construction.

It was necessary to build the civil society because political democracy did not without the supports of social conditions, and then which was a core reason to construct democracy system. In Nanjing of China, government should establish a civil society with free, justice, autonomy when service-oriented need to be built, which would represent the willingness of the people, and protect the benefits of the people.

(1) Nanjing government should transform the ideas of laws.

According the analysis of results on the tables and figures, the government should without the traditional ideas to have administration affaires out of law ideas, and insure the ideas of the restriction of power and the protection of human rights through understanding the relationship between laws and power. The aim of laws must have a progress to protect human rights because not only establishing the social political order but also protecting the human rights of citizens when the public power was awarded by the way of democracy with citizens.

(2) Nanjing government should reform the system of laws.

According to the standard of China’s socialist legislative system, Nanjing government should insured the restriction of legislation, and improved the quality of legislation. Therefore, Nanjing government should reform the restriction of system on internal and external supervision of procuratorial organ so as to guarantee the management mechanism with justice, clean and efficient.

(3) Nanjing government should culture the legislation spirit

China is a socialist country, and China should respect and guarantee the human rights of citizens’ rely on the spirit of the highest of laws. In addition, Nanjing government must eliminate the stupidity and ignorance, which would achieve the development of the free and legislation.

The construction of service-oriented government was related with the development of civil society, which asked to improve the administrative consciousness of China Communist through scientific administrative ideas. Thus, Nanjing government need insist that they would keep deep touch with the citizens in the process of administration, and had a grassroots’ objective to serve for people whole-heartedly.

Virtues education. It was more important to strengthen officials’ virtues education, e.g. moral and ethical education, ideological and political education, professional ethics and education, especially administrative ethics education etc., when Nanjing started to establish a service-oriented government. All the measurements of administrative ethics in the last 30 years, e.g. the implementation of government administrative ethics education, the development of administrative ethics guidelines, the establishment of administrative ethics regulatory bodies, the improvement of the mechanism of administrative ethics, had better significance when China’s construction of administrative ethics and moral standards was talked about as well as the improvement of society. At last, public obligations such as reason, conscience, and morality also played a positive role in promoting the construction of law’s rules.

Government legislation. There was an important task to construct a service-oriented government follow the corresponding rules to strengthen the establishment of government legislation openness system, and thus executive public procedure had to be forced to open and construction. Therefore, China need gradually improve the information disclosure systems, administrative procedures and hearing system by further strengthening legislation, which would institutionalize the open administration and effectively curb the “black box operation” so that the public views might be timely adopted and safeguarded.

Community network cooperation. In fact, the construction of service-oriented government had been kept in the process of the government operation, thus citizens were accepters by public administration, however, and the government played the role of public administration. The situation that one-way movement was from public management had not long been much changed. However, Nanjing’s government would delegate the right of participating community management through authority and democratic means, e.g. the self-service, self-management, citizen and the civil servant’s participation and innovation through the establishment of community cooperative networks and civic participation in community development. The Government must give empowerment and financial support to some communities when they need services so as to these communities might solve the problems independently.

(1) The improvement of civic capacity through taking participation into the politics widely. Currently, Nanjing government should provide more chances took participation into the politics by citizens, which would improve civic capacity and ask government to repair the procedures of political participation. And government should complete the laws and rules of civic participation that guarantee the efficience and justice of civic participation through fixing the range of civic participation in states and society affairs, ways and methods. In community, government should complete the autonomy system, e.g. democratic selection, democratic decision-making, democratic management and supervisor, and provide developed place for social organization.

(2) Nanjing government should strengthen civic education through completely bringing school, family, social political organization and masses of communication play in politic and society. That transmitted the political culture, and cultured civic political consciousness and reformed civic political culture, and then guided the basic trend of social political development.

(3) Government should urge the development of citizens through completely guaranteeing civic basic human rights related with politics, economy and social rights by respecting, guaranteeing and achieving.

In modern society of China, Nanjing government should respect the human rights, speaking free, thoughts and ideas free and others. And then government also protected citizens’ basic social rights, and provide necessary products and services, e.g. Medical mechanism, supply of medicines and education.

In a word, government had the reformation related with citizens, and had the responsibility to urge the society in process of citizens development.

6. Conclusions

This study was designed to determine what factors most influence the service of state government workers in Nanjing government. The research also identified government service factors, including autonomy and freedom, the service itself and a result of local service. It appears that, just as residents, government responds productively to effective supervision, open exchange, recognition each other etc. This study’s results can be used to enhance overall service effect in Nanjing’s government. The key factors are active and effective service-oriented theories, effective communications, setting of clear goals and objectives, elimination of bureaucracy, creation of service system, and positive motivation

7. Recommendations

The congruence of this study’s results with previous research in the service-oriented system of China government indicates the potential for general applicability of the findings across thinking. The indications are that large service-oriented government will likely benefit from increased attention to setting of clear goals, institution of effective leadership, improving supervision and exchange system. Nanjing’s government is well advised to attend to development of effective service between government construction and residents. More complete verification that service factors in the Nanjing government correspond to those in the private sector will require additional studies. Of course, similar studies in other areas would yield useful insight into the generalization potential of these results.

Declaration of conflict of interests

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this paper.

Acknowledgements

This paper is supported in part by National Natural Science Foundation Youth Project (70903002) and National Natural Science Foundation General Project (71173099), supported by Trans-Century Training Program Foundation for Talents of Humanities and Social Science by the Ministry of education of the people’s Republic of China (NCET-11-0228) 2011, supported by Jiangsu Green-blue Project 2010, and supported by Great Subject  Research Project on the Philosophy and Social Science of  the Ministry of education of PR China (10JZD0033).

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