Research Activities

Research Projects

Township leaders and village chiefs in contemporary China (2017_2_40_009)


The relationship between a township leader and a village chief in contemporary China is something of a political puzzle. Researchers have generally argued that China’s bureaucratic system presents a very important political contracting framework. Within this framework, there is a strong relationship between the career of a cadre and the performance of a contract that may include not only economic development but also other aspects of political and social development. Past research has argued that political contracts apply to leadership positions at both the town and village levels, which makes the ‘contractual’ demands on township leaders and village chiefs comparable. The characteristics of the two positions, however, differ significantly, particularly with regards to the consequences in terms of leadership performance and accountability. For instance, a cadre’s career strongly depends on his or her performance as assessed by senior and high-level cadres. In contrast, one can only become a village chief through a village election, and once elected, a village chief cannot be dismissed by the township government unless the village chief is convicted of a crime. Furthermore, since a village chief is an elected leader, he or she does not necessarily have a clear and strong career plan akin to that of a cadre, who typically works and seeks to be promoted in the bureaucratic system. For these and other reasons, it is doubtful that the conventional political contracting model can adequately explain the complex relationships that exist today between township leaders and village chiefs in China. The proposed research project will address this issue by constructing a new framework to account for the complexities and subtleties that have emerged in the relationships between the two different types of leaders working in their respective spatio-organizational settings under the conditions of rapid socioeconomic and political transformation.


April 2017 - March 2019

Members of the Research Project
[ Organizer ] Ren Zhe
  • Outside Publisher-Book in Japanese-