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Promotion-driven local states and governing cities in action—re-reading China's urban entrepreneurialism from a local perspective

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This article examines local entrepreneurialism and the governance logic of local states under China’s cadre assessment mechanism. By highlighting the ubiquitous performance competition and promotion pressure faced by local officials, it argues that building performance and seeking promotion during the tenure are the internal impulses for Chinese local states and their leaders to pursue entrepreneurialism. In China’s politico-institutional soil, therefore, entrepreneurial actions are not necessarily designed to enhance local attractiveness and competitiveness in the global market, but serve as a means for local officials to accumulate political capital and pursue career advancement. Lanzhou’s urban renewal is used as a case to illustrate how city leaders advance individual careers through entrepreneurialism.┬áBy interpreting the impact of cadre assessment mechanism on local governance, the study sheds light on the ubiquitous inter-scalar politics in China. It also enriches our understanding of China’s urban entrepreneurialism by revealing the political intent behind local governance actions.
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Keywords: China; Urban transformation; competitive promotion; local entrepreneurialism; performance-seeking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Guangdong Open Laboratory of Geospatial Information Technology and Application, Guangzhou Institute of Geography, Guangzhou, China

Publication date: February 7, 2020

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