In Search of a Performance Profile in the People's Republic of China

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Performance appraisal of state civil servants in China seems to take on some NPM techniques but there are important differences as well. Based on analyses of related documents, regulations, rules, and laws promulgated by governments and interviews with a dozen government officials, this article first documents the development and, second, looks into the aspects of implementation politics and biases in developing a performance profile in China. Chinese officials have made serious efforts to institutionalize a state civil service in China. Yet, when necessary, Chinese performance appraisal methods still allow politics to take the center stage. Given the peculiar political economy and the largely "unreformed" political system in China, administrative reform in general and the development of a performance profile in civil service in particular are far from complete.

INTRODUCTION

This article attempts to assess the raison detente in developing a performance profile for personnel administration so as to shed some light on the institution of a state civil service in China. The prime objectives are to document the development and look into the aspects of implementation politics and biases in developing a performance profile in China. Data drawn in this article include analyses of some internal documents, major journals and newspaper reports in Chinese personnel management, and some data of the related regulations and rules promulgated by Chinese governments. To supplement the inadequacies of documentary analysis, interview findings with a dozen officials in the central government, Beijing and Shenzhen city government will be used. Needless to say, the methods used in this article have limited generalizability. Nevertheless, it points to some major development in personnel development in China.

The analysis shall proceed on three fronts. The first part of this article looks into the appraisal process so as to explore the implementation politics and biases. Questions to be asked include: the degree of openness; participation of state officials at different levels; and regularity and rule governing in the appraisal process. The second part examines the appraisal content of the state civil sevants. The last part illustrates the development of a new performance appraisal method adopted on a trial-run basis since July 1997.

PROCESS OF APPRAISAL

Usually, the entire process cycle is divided into seven stages. The first is the preparation stage. An ad hoc appraisal committee or group will be established, depending on the size of the total workforce. The party core groups of the organization or of the next higher-level party organization, in the case of evaluation of a head or deputy heads of an organization, shall prepare a paper on the performance appraisal plan for distribution and action.'

The head of the party core group (usually the head of the organization as well) chairs the appraisal committee. Different appraisal groups will be formed within a ministry, commission, bureau under the State Council, administration under the State Council or institute under the State Council. These appraisal groups shall report to the appraisal committee generally or simply to the party core group of the organization in most cases. The appraisal committee or group for the head or his deputy of an organization shall be organized and managed by the party organization department at the next higher level. Members of the appraisal committee or group usually include the head of the organization and/or his/her deputies, representatives from the party core group, from the personnel department, from the respective departments, division or branch, and elected representative from the masses.

The second stage is self-appraisal. The appraisers are required to submit a quality report in the light of the four performance criteria: virtue, ability, diligence, and achievement. In it, the appraisers are to report the extent to which they fulfill their assigned tasks, the way and manner they complete them, and their performance of political thought. …