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How China Promotes Its Military Officers: Interactions between Formal and Informal Institutions

  • Peng Wang (a1) and Jingyi Wang (a2)

Abstract

How does China promote its military officers? We present a qualitative study on the determinants (connections versus performance) of the selection of military officers. Drawing on 48 in-depth interviews with serving and retired military officers, we argue that the inability of the rule-based personnel system to assess candidate performance (professional competence and political integrity) leads to the rise of the informal institution of guanxi – a Chinese version of personal connections – in promoting military officers. Guanxi both substitutes for and competes with the formal personnel system. Information received through guanxi networks is used by superiors to evaluate subordinates’ professional competence and political integrity. Guanxi is also used by corrupt officers to distort democratic procedures and facilitate the buying and selling of military positions. We conclude that the co-existence of a rule-based personnel system and guanxi leads superiors to promote competent candidates within their guanxi networks.

中国是如何提拔军官的? 本文是对影响军官选拔因素(关系 vs 能力)的质性研究。我们认为正式的人事提拔制度不足以全面衡量候选人的绩效(专业能力和政治廉洁),这导致了“关系”在提拔军事人才过程中发挥作用。“关系”与正式的人事制度是替代和竞争的关系。上级领导可以利用“关系”网络来获取可靠信息从而衡量下级军官的专业能力和政治廉洁。 “关系”也可能成为腐败官员扭曲民主集中制和达成腐败交易的工具。我们的结论是: “关系”与正式制度的并存导致上级领导提拔关系网里有能力的人。

Copyright

Corresponding author

Email: pengwang@hku.hk (corresponding author).

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