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Title: Fast Track: State Capacity and Railway Bureaucracies in China and India
Authors: Chan, Kyle
Advisors: Xie, Yu
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: china
state capacity
Subjects: Sociology
Political science
Public administration
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: How does the organizational structure of the state affect its ability to provide basic public goods, such as infrastructure? This dissertation compares China’s and India’s railway bureaucracies to show how bureaucratic structure plays a crucial role in shaping their ability to develop railway infrastructure. This dissertation draws on two years of fieldwork in China and India, including interviews with government officials, internal organizational policies, project-level documentation, construction site visits, planning reports, and corporate filings. Chapter One lays out the empirical puzzle. Over the past two decades, the Chinese state has built the world’s largest high-speed rail network while the Indian state has struggled to modernize its railway system. What explains the gap in state capacity for railway development between these two countries? This chapter introduces these cases and situates an organizational approach to understanding state capacity within the literature on the role of the state and economic development. Chapter Two directly compares the organizational structures of China’s and India’s railway bureaucracies. This chapter shows how China’s railway bureaucracy benefits from a nodal structure that provides mechanisms for coordination and accountability while India’s railway bureaucracy is hampered by a diffuse structure with overlapping and often conflicting lines of authority. Chapter Three examines the organizational structure of Chinese state-owned enterprises involved in railway projects as well as other forms of infrastructure development. This chapter shows how these massive state firms are organized as a multi-level structure of parent firms and corporate subsidiaries. This industrial structure produces a system of “managed competition” that attempts to harness the forces of market competition while actively balancing resources and personnel across competing market players. Chapter Four examines the role of emotions in the Indian Railways. Contrary to Max Weber’s conception of the stoic civil servant, the professional lives of Indian Railway officers are suffused with emotions, including fear, frustration, and pride. This chapter shows how these emotions stem in part from the organizational structure of the Indian Railways itself, which contributes to an environment of bureaucratic rivalry and mutual suspicion. The final chapter concludes by discussing the relationship between state organizational forms and institutional context as well as the possibilities for organizational change.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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