Panel Paper: Explaining Regional Environmental Policy Innovation in China: Internal Determinants or Regional Diffusion?

Friday, November 9, 2018
Taylor - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Shiming Zheng1 and Guimin Zheng1,2, (1)South China University of Technology, (2)Korea University

With the gradual deepening of China's industrial restructuring and economic transformation, environmental management is facing more and more difficulties and uncertainties. Adjusting and innovating environmental policies has become an important channel for both national and provincial government to solve environmental problems. Policy scholars have sought to explain the innovation of environmental policy through two primary theoretical lenses: internal determinants and regional diffusion. To test the mechanisms at work for the local adoption of innovative environmental policies, we examine a sample of 26 provinces and four centrally-controlled municipalities in China over a ten-year period from 2007 to 2016. Several hypotheses are derived from the theories of policy innovation literature and regional diffusion model. Our findings show that the development status of social economy, the role of government leaders and citizen participation in environmental management play a part for new policy adoption by local governments. Also, the degree to which the central government is committed to the environmental policy innovation and the actions of neighboring provinces also significantly influence local policy innovation. In order to better understand how the regional diffusion model works, we further test the model through an event history analysis for an environmental policy adopted in some province-level regions. This provides insights for regional governments into how to timely update and innovate environmental policy, and thus to better handle with the gradually complicated environmental issues.