Discussion Papers

No.773 Village Chiefs in China: Incomplete Agents

by Zhe Ren

March 2020


In the field of political science, township governments and villages are dealt with in different contexts. Studies on township governments are often discussed in the context of intergovernmental relations, and emphasize the hierarchy of the government’s power system and aspects of policy enforcement. Studies on villages, on the other hand, are frequently discussed in the context of villagers’ autonomy, with attention paid to factors such as the election systems and autonomy issues. This paper examines how collective economies and village election shape the relationship between township governments and villages (village chiefs) from the perspective of the principal-agent approach, based on case studies of China’s coastal region.

Keywords: Village Chiefs, Village Autonomy, Township government, Principle-agent

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