Digital Governance in Local China
As new information technologies and the advent of “big data” are reshaping societies around the globe, inquiries into the nature and varieties of digital governance and their consequences become increasingly urgent. “Smart cities” are mushrooming particularly quickly in China, which is home to more than half of the more than 1,000 smart cities worldwide. These city governments have begun to experiment with digital technologies to harness the power of big data analytics for governing society. Emerging practices have momentous implications for the organization of social, political and economic life in China and globally. A systematic study has yet to address the lacking empirical and conceptual understanding of digitalizing governance practices in authoritarian China. The project seizes a unique opportunity to witness “natural experiments” of digital government modes as they emerge from China’s advanced smart cities. Mixed methods (surveys, experiments, and interviews) will be used to study the interplay between government, businesses and citizens in local decision-making as digital technologies are increasingly integrated into the process.
The project seizes a unique opportunity to witness “natural experiments” of digital government modes as they emerge from China’s advanced smart cities. The project has three objectives:
1. Study the variation in local digital governance modes and understand why these modes evolved in different ways.
2. Explore the mechanisms through which digital technologies are integrated into local decision-making processes and governance structures.
3. Assess the impacts of new digital governance modes for citizens, businesses and the state.
Findings will generate new empirical data, on the basis of which we will further conceputalize emerging digital governance modes and assess their benefits and risks. The project adds to the field of digital governance in authoritarian states and contributes to debates reaching beyond the China context about societal change under advancing digitalization.
Mixed methods will be used to study the interplay between government, businesses and citizens in local decision-making as digital technologies are increasingly integrated into the process. The following methods are the core of this project:
Funded by the European Research Council
This project, led by Prof. Genia Kostka, is funded by an ERC Starting Grant for the topic “Governing with Data: Local Experimentation in Authoritarian China”. The funding is 1.5 million Euros and the total project period is five years (2020-2025).