Bureaucracy, Economy, and Leadership in China: The Institutional Origins of the Great Leap Forward

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In this book David Bachman examines the origins of the Great Leap Forward (GLF), a programme of economic reform that must be considered one of the great tragedies of Communist China, estimated to have caused the death of between 14 and 28 million Chinese. While standard accounts interpret the GLF as chiefly the brainchild of Mao Zedong and as a radical rejection of a set of more moderate reform proposals put forward in the period 1956 to 1957, Bachman proposes a provocative reinterpretation of the origins of the GLF that stresses the role of the bureaucracy. Using a neo-institutionalist approach to analyse economic policy-making leading up to the GLF, he argues that the GLF must be seen as the produce of an institutional process of policy-making. This book offers a reinterpretation of one of the most important episodes in the history of the People's Republic as well as a framework with which to analyse the role of institutions more generally in the political economy of the PRC.