在降本增效之间:跨域政务合作的组织行为逻辑

Translated title of the contribution: Between Reducing Costs and Increasing Efficiency: The Inter-local Collaboration Logic of Delivering Government Services

    Research output: Book/Report/Edited volumeBookpeer-review

    Abstract

    In September 2020, the Chinese Government formally implemented the reform of “Delivering Government Services on a Cross-city Basis”. This is an innovative action to break down the fragmentation of government services caused by the household registration system, in the context of the “triple overlap” refers to deepening the transformation of government functions, serving the new trend of integrated regional development and the free movement of factors of production. Under the reform, local governments are encouraged to collaborate with other localities to jointly deliver services for citizens and enterprises regardless of their registered locations. Joint service delivery is achieved by reaching bilateral agreements between two cities, which requires standardization of service procedures and mutual administrative power authorization. The distinction between receiving and accepting is underscored by the offline collaboration, and it is crucial that the "receiving place" and the "accepting place" explicitly define their respective authority roles in the collaboration process. To a certain extent, the "receiving place" must delegate the right of receipt and even the right of preliminary examination to the "receiving place." The "receiving place" must also arrange special administrative resources to assist with the receipt and verification. In the same vein, this type of inter-local collaboration does not necessitate the resolution of negative externalities. The demand for services is primarily determined by the direction and volume of population mobility, so the selection of collaborators is not limited by geographic location. The academic community has not yet given much attention to the unique and novel form of inter-local collaboration, which is an extremely rare form of non-adjacent delegated collaboration.

    The optimal solution between achieving policy objectives and controlling implementation costs is essential for any policy reform. In this context, the primary policy objective of "Delivering Government Services on a Cross-city Basis" is to provide administration services in non-hometown cities and serve the migratory population. Specifically, cities must satisfy three conditions in order to implement high-quality reform: a broader scope of collaboration, more suitable collaborative partners, and more collaborative services. The theoretical perspective of inter-governmental collaboration proposes that the breadth, connection, and degree of collaboration be interconnected. The transaction costs of "peer-to-peer" collaboration, including information costs, negotiation costs, and implementation costs, are the costs of reform. In particular, the transaction costs are significantly influenced by the financial supply, administrative supply, personal relationship supply, social needs, regional needs and organizational needs of both partners. Additionally, this reform divides the collaboration into three levels, each of which pays distinct expenses. The breadth and connection of collaboration require only matching, communication, and contracting, which are administrative tasks that are completed once. From its inception, the degree of collaboration is an ongoing administrative task that does not conclude on a whim. The implementation costs of determining the degree of collaboration are contingent upon the size of the population served and the number of services provided. These factors must be matched with human resources, financial provision, administrative provision, and sustained policy attention.

    The three levels of collaboration began to decouple due to the pressure to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Through field research, the author discovered that due to differences in service demand and supply capacity in each city, there are significant differences in the organizational behavior of local governments. Some cities exhibit a high degree of collaboration and a great number of partners, while others have a relatively low degree of collaboration and a smaller ‘circle of friends’ for government services. Some city dyads offer a substantial number of service items, while others offer a limited number. The author also discovered that individual cities advertised the number of collaborators but did not implement the collaborative services.

    This study observed a sample of 155 inter-local government services collaborations across 11 provinces in southeast China, which are 11935 undirected dyads. This work, based on the literature on inter-local collaboration, constructs an integrated explanatory framework of "Needs-Supply" by incorporating two dimensions of influence, namely, instrumentality and legitimacy, and analyzes the formation logic of inter-local collaboration from three perspectives of collaborative decision-making: collaboration breadth, collaboration connection, and collaboration degree.

    The quantitative analysis identifies the different motivational mechanisms behind the three perspectives of collaboration behavior. The factors that promote collaboration include social needs and organization needs; the promoting factors of collaboration connection include social needs, region needs, organization needs, and financial supply; the only factor promoting the degree of collaboration is organization needs. In light of the core policy target of "solving the difficulties for the migrants," social needs primarily foster the breadth and connection of collaboration, but they do not significantly influence the degree of collaboration. For the secondary policy target of "serving the macro-strategic cooperation between the two cities," region needs only play a positive role in promoting the collaboration connection but have no significant effect on the breadth and degree of collaboration. Organizational needs have a positive effect on collaboration breadth, connection, and degree.

    The qualitative analysis reveals the underlying reasons for the different mechanisms behind the three perspectives. Both collaboration breadth and city dyads' collaborative connection have the symbolic meaning of publicity and a higher likelihood of being assessed, which forces cities to focus on instrumentality and legitimacy needs when making decisions. The degree of collaboration determines the implementation cost and has a lower likelihood of being assessed. The size of the migrants, which is both the social needs and the cost, doesn’t play a positive propulsive role for the degree perspective. The "Mark" and "Hole" categories were generated by the superior assessment system. ‘Mark’ denotes that the lower level of government sends signals to the higher level of government to indicate that it has completed its tasks. ‘Hole’ denotes that the higher level of government, in order to protect the grass-roots level's incentives, omits to examine certain procedures in the policy implementation. The grassroots implementation system made rational cost decisions in the superior blind area, and then presented differentiated implementation of different levels of collaboration, considering the needs of the migrant population when selecting partners and determining collaboration quantity. When determining the quantity of government services, social needs are not a priority. This has resulted in a temporary fragmentation of the three dimensions, despite their supposed interlinkage and close interweaving. If this fragmentation continues without prompt correction, it could potentially lead to formalism.

    Started in early 2021 and completed in late 2022, this book is one of the earlier empirical studies that systematically explore the complex mechanisms behind the practice of “Delivering Government Services on a Cross-city Basis” in China. Aiming at identifying the dynamics and difficulties of cities from different perspectives of collaboration, providing policy insights for the deepening of service collaboration, and providing comparable case studies for many public service collaboration practices in China (e.g., “Efficiently Accomplish One Thing”, “All-In-One Network Services” etc.). It also provides the three-perspectives model of collaboration, the " Needs - Supply" framework, the classic type of non-adjacent delegated collaboration, and the measurement of key variables that can effectively complement the study of inter-local collaboration.
    Translated title of the contributionBetween Reducing Costs and Increasing Efficiency: The Inter-local Collaboration Logic of Delivering Government Services
    Original languageChinese (Simplified)
    Publisher清华大学出版社
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2025

    Keywords

    • Delivering Government Services on a Cross-city Basis
    • inter-local collaboration
    • collaboration breadth
    • collaboration connection
    • degree of collaboration

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