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Lessons of government centralization and credibility: A qualitative case-study of administrative change in Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, China (1982–2018)

Weiye Wang () and Jinlong Liu

Land Use Policy, 2022, vol. 113, issue C

Abstract: How to ensure adequate provision of public services in protected area management is a well-known debate. By using the credibility thesis as a theoretical and methodological tool, this paper furnishes a renewed look at how administrative changes affect the provision of public services. For this purpose, a detailed case-study is presented: the Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve in China. The analysis covers a period of 36 years (1982–2018) of administrative change in the protected area. It will be ascertained that the levels of administration for the reserve kept increasing, along with continuous changes in the corresponding government structure. The latter became increasingly centralized, leading to significant stagnation of the government at the “form” level and subsequent failure at the “function” level. Problems culminated in 2013 as large-scale social protests erupted, after which local villagers took matters into their own hands and single-handedly developed a rural development plan, which eventually received approval from the authorities. This detailed study shows that to overcome the deficiencies of a stalled governance system and improve credibility, the specific form of institutions – a centralized or decentralized administration – is of secondary importance as compared to the establishment and implementation of unambiguous policies, along with increased local participation, and transparent distribution of management responsibilities and authority.

Keywords: Credibility thesis; FAT Institutional Framework; Governance and administrative change; Nature reserve; Public service provision; Centralization and decentralization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2021.105907

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