International Development Planning Review

The evolution of the urban planning system in contemporary China: an institutional approach

International Development Planning Review (2015), 37, (3), 269–287.

Abstract

The institutional approach needs to be established as the new ‘focus’ for exploring changes and capacity-building in the planning systems in developing countries. This article analyses the planning system in China using institutional change theory. Ultimately, the political transition from a centrally planned system to a market system and related governance reforms were the basic drivers behind the evolution of the planning system in China. While top-down supply-induced institutional change in the planning system is still the most common, more recently bottom-up forces have increased dramatically, such as the growth of civil society, the appearance of the middle class and the increasing autonomy of local governments. Until recently, planning ideas and theories imported from Western countries have greatly influenced local plan-making in the context of globalisation. However, many traditions of socialist planning – for example, maintaining social control and generating economic growth – coexist due to path-dependence mechanisms and the gradual transition of the socialist political regime. There are new institutional barriers to capacity-building in urban planning in China, including political decentralisation and fragmented management, the weak role of planning legislation, growing leadership politics and insufficient citizen participation, as well as increasing social inequity.

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HECHTER, M., OPP, K. -D. and WIPPLER, R. (1990), Social Institutions: Their Emergence, Maintenance and Effects, New York, NY, Walter de Gruyter.Social Institutions: Their Emergence, Maintenance and Effects Google Scholar

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LEAF, M. and HOU, L. (2006), ‘The “third spring” of urban planning in China: the resurrection of professional planning in the post-Mao era’, China Information, 20, 553–85.The “third spring” of urban planning in China: the resurrection of professional planning in the post-Mao era China Information 20 553 85 Google Scholar

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MA, L. J. C. (2005), ‘Urban administrative restructuring, changing scale relations and local economic development in China’, Political Geography, 24, 477–97.Urban administrative restructuring, changing scale relations and local economic development in China Political Geography 24 477 97 Google Scholar

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MOLOTCH, H. (1976), ‘The city as a growth machine: toward a political economy of place’, American Journal of Sociology, 82, 309–32.The city as a growth machine: toward a political economy of place American Journal of Sociology 82 309 32 Google Scholar

MOULAERT, F. (2005), ‘Institutional economics and planning theory: a partnership between ostriches?’, Planning Theory, 4, 21–32.Institutional economics and planning theory: a partnership between ostriches? Planning Theory 4 21 32 Google Scholar

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NEWMAN, P. and THORNLEY, A. (1996b), Urban Planning in Europe: International Competition, National Systems, and Planning Projects, London, Routledge.Urban Planning in Europe: International Competition, National Systems, and Planning Projects Google Scholar

NORTH, D. C. (1990), Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance Google Scholar

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STOUGH, R. R. (2004), ‘Institutions, land use and transportation’, in D. A. Hensher, K. J. Button, K. E. Haynes and P. R. Stopher (eds), Handbook of Transport Geography and Spatial Systems, London, Elsevier, 27–42.Institutions, land use and transportation Handbook of Transport Geography and Spatial Systems 27 42 Google Scholar

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SUTCLIFFE, A. (1981), Towards the Planned City, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.Towards the Planned City Google Scholar

TANG, W. -S. (2000), ‘Chinese urban planning at fifty: an assessment of the planning theory literature’, Journal of Planning Literature, 14, 347–66.Chinese urban planning at fifty: an assessment of the planning theory literature Journal of Planning Literature 14 347 66 Google Scholar

TAYLOR, N. (1998), Urban Planning Theory Since 1945, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage.Urban Planning Theory Since 1945 Google Scholar

TEWDWR-JONES, M. and ALLMENDINGER, P. (2002), ‘Communicative planning, collaborative planning, and the post-positivist planning theory landscape’, in P. Allmendinger and M. Tewdwr-Jones (eds), Planning Futures: New Directions for Planning Theory, London, Routledge, 206–16.Communicative planning, collaborative planning, and the post-positivist planning theory landscape Planning Futures: New Directions for Planning Theory 206 16 Google Scholar

THELEN, K. (1999), ‘Historical institutionalism in comparative studies politics’, Annual Review of Political Science, 2, 369–404.Historical institutionalism in comparative studies politics Annual Review of Political Science 2 369 404 Google Scholar

UN-HABITAT (2009), Planning Sustainable Cities: UN-HABITAT Practices and Perspectives, London, Earthscan.Planning Sustainable Cities: UN-HABITAT Practices and Perspectives Google Scholar

WARD, S. V. (1999), ‘The international diffusion of planning: a review and a Canadian case study’, International Planning Studies, 4, 53–77.The international diffusion of planning: a review and a Canadian case studyInternational Planning Studies 4 53 77 Google Scholar

WARD, S. V. (2005), ‘The emergence of the global planner’, Town Planning Review, 76, 141–99.The emergence of the global planner Town Planning Review 76 141 99 Google Scholar

WEYLAND, K. (2008), ‘Toward a new theory of institutional change’, World Politics, 60, 281–314.Toward a new theory of institutional change World Politics 60 281 314 Google Scholar

WU, F. (2007), ‘Re-orientation of the city plan: strategic planning and design competition in China’, Geoforum, 38, 379–92.Re-orientation of the city plan: strategic planning and design competition in China Geoforum 38 379 92 Google Scholar

YEH, A. G. O. and WU, F. (1998), ‘The transformation of the urban planning system in China from a centrally-planned to transitional economy’, Progress in Planning, 51, 162–252.The transformation of the urban planning system in China from a centrally-planned to transitional economy Progress in Planning 51 162 252 Google Scholar

ZHANG, T. (2002), ‘Urban development and a socialist pro-growth coalition in Shanghai’, Urban Affairs Review, 37, 475–99.Urban development and a socialist pro-growth coalition in Shanghai Urban Affairs Review 37 475 99 Google Scholar

ZHANG, Y. and FANG, K. (2004), ‘Is history repeating itself ?: from urban renewal in the United States to inner-city redevelopment in China’, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 23, 286–98.Is history repeating itself ?: from urban renewal in the United States to inner-city redevelopment in China Journal of Planning Education and Research 23 286 98 Google Scholar

ZHAO, P. (2011), ‘Managing urban growth in a transforming China: evidence from Beijing’, Land Use Policy, 28, 96–109.Managing urban growth in a transforming China: evidence from BeijingLand Use Policy 28 96 109 Google Scholar

ZHAO, P., LU, B. and WOLTJER, J. (2009a), ‘Conflicts in urban fringe in the transformation era: an examination of performance of the metropolitan growth management in Beijing’, Habitat International, 33, 347–56.Conflicts in urban fringe in the transformation era: an examination of performance of the metropolitan growth management in Beijing Habitat International 33 347 56 Google Scholar

ZHAO, P., LU, B. and WOLTJER, J. (2009b), ‘Growth management and decentralisation: an assessment of urban containment policies in the transformation era in Beijing’, International Development Planning Review, 31, 55–80.Growth management and decentralisation: an assessment of urban containment policies in the transformation era in Beijing International Development Planning Review 31 55 80 Google Scholar

ZHENG, S., LONG, F., FAN, C. C. and GU, Y. (2009), ‘Urban villages in China: a 2008 survey of migrant settlements in Beijing’, Eurasian Geography and Economics, 50, 425–46.Urban villages in China: a 2008 survey of migrant settlements in BeijingEurasian Geography and Economics 50 425 46 Google Scholar

ZHU, J. (1999), ‘Local growth coalition: the context and implications of China’s gradualist urban land reforms’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23, 534–48.Local growth coalition: the context and implications of China’s gradualist urban land reforms International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 23 534 48 Google Scholar

ZHU, J. (2000), ‘Urban physical development in transition to market: the case of China as a transitional economy’, Urban Affairs Review, 36, 178–96.Urban physical development in transition to market: the case of China as a transitional economy Urban Affairs Review 36 178 96 Google Scholar

ABRAMSON, D. B. (2006), ‘Urban planning in China: continuity and change: what the future holds may surprise you’,Journal of the American Planning Association, 72, 197–215.Urban planning in China: continuity and change: what the future holds may surprise you Journal of the American Planning Association 72 197 215 Google Scholar

ALBREcHTS, L. (1991), ‘Changing roles and positions of planners’, Urban Studies, 28, 123–37.Changing roles and positions of planners Urban Studies 28 123 37 Google Scholar

BALBO, M. (1993), ‘Urban planning and the fragmented city of developing countries’, Third World Planning Review, 15, 23–40.Urban planning and the fragmented city of developing countries Third World Planning Review 15 23 40 Google Scholar

BALDUCCI, A. and CALVARESI, C. (2005), ‘Participation and leadership in planning theory and practices’, in M. Haus, H. Heinelt and M. Stewart (eds), Urban Governance and Democracy: Leadership and Community Involvement, London, Routledge, 234–52.Participation and leadership in planning theory and practices Urban Governance and Democracy: Leadership and Community Involvement 234 52 Google Scholar

BINSWANGER, H. P. and RUTTAN, V. W. (1978), Induced Innovation: Technology, Institutions, and Development, Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins University Press.Induced Innovation: Technology, Institutions, and Development Google Scholar

BLAIR, T. L. (1983), ‘Third World urban innovation, managing growth and development’, Cities, 1, 71–84.Third World urban innovation, managing growth and development Cities 1 71 84 Google Scholar

BROOK, T. and FROLIc, B. M. (1997), Civil Society in China, New York, NY, ME Sharpe Incorporated.Civil Society in China Google Scholar

CAMPBELL, H. (2012), ‘“Planning ethics” and rediscovering the idea of planning’, Planning Theory, 11, 379–99.“Planning ethics” and rediscovering the idea of planning Planning Theory 11 379 99 Google Scholar

CHINITZ, B. (1990), ‘Growth management’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 56, 3–8.Growth management Journal of the American Planning Association 56 3 8 Google Scholar

CHOGUILL, C. L. (1994), ‘Crisis, chaos, crunch? Planning for urban growth in the developing world’, Urban Studies, 31, 935–45.Crisis, chaos, crunch? Planning for urban growth in the developing world Urban Studies 31 935 45 Google Scholar

DAVIDOFF, P. (1965), ‘Advocacy and pluralism in planning’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 31, 331–38.Advocacy and pluralism in planning Journal of the American Institute of Planners 31 331 38 Google Scholar

DAVIES, H. W. E. (1998), ‘Continuity and change: the evolution of the British planning system, 1947-1997’, The Town Planning Review, 69, 135–52.Continuity and change: the evolution of the British planning system, 1947-1997 The Town Planning Review 69 135 52 Google Scholar

FALUDI, A. (1999), ‘Patterns of doctrinal development’, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 18, 333–44.Patterns of doctrinal development Journal of Planning Education and Research 18 333 44 Google Scholar

GU, C. (2001), ‘Social polarization and segregation in Beijing’, Chinese Geographical Science, 11,17–26.Social polarization and segregation in Beijing Chinese Geographical Science 11 17 26 Google Scholar

HE, Z. (2004), ‘The social actors and professional ethics of planners’ (Guihuashi de zhiye zhuti xing yu zhiye daode), City Planning Review (chengshi guihua), 28, 85–86.The social actors and professional ethics of planners City Planning Review 28 85 86 Google Scholar

HEALEY, P. (2003), ‘Collaborative planning in perspective’, Planning Theory, 2, 101–23.Collaborative planning in perspective Planning Theory 2 101 23 Google Scholar

HEALEY, P. (2006), Collaborative Planning: Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies, New York, NY, Palgrave Macmillan.Collaborative Planning: Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies Google Scholar

HECHTER, M., OPP, K. -D. and WIPPLER, R. (1990), Social Institutions: Their Emergence, Maintenance and Effects, New York, NY, Walter de Gruyter.Social Institutions: Their Emergence, Maintenance and Effects Google Scholar

HOWE, E. and KAUFMAN, J. (1979), ‘The ethics of contemporary American planners’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 45, 243–55.The ethics of contemporary American planners Journal of the American Planning Association 45 243 55 Google Scholar

JENKS, M. and BURGESS, R. (2000), Compact Cities: Sustainable Urban Forms for Developing Countries, London, E & FN Spon Press.Compact Cities: Sustainable Urban Forms for Developing Countries Google Scholar

KEEBLE, L. (1952), Principles and Practice of Town and Country Planning, London, The Estate Gazette.Principles and Practice of Town and Country Planning Google Scholar

KIM, A. (2012), ‘The evolution of the institutional approach in planning’, in R. Weber and R. Crane (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 69–86.The evolution of the institutional approach in planning The Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning 69 86 Google Scholar

KNOX, P. L. and MASILELA, C. O. (1989), ‘Attitudes to Third World urban planning: practitioners versus outside experts’, Habitat International, 13, 67–79.Attitudes to Third World urban planning: practitioners versus outside experts Habitat International 13 67 79 Google Scholar

KRASNER, S. D. (1983), International Regimes, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press.International Regimes Google Scholar

LEAF, M. (2005), ‘Modernity confronts tradition: the professional planner and local corporatism in the rebuilding of China’s cities’, in B. Sanyal (ed.), Comparative Planning Cultures, New York, NY, Routledge, 91–112.Modernity confronts tradition: the professional planner and local corporatism in the rebuilding of China Comparative Planning Cultures 91 112 Google Scholar

LEAF, M. and HOU, L. (2006), ‘The “third spring” of urban planning in China: the resurrection of professional planning in the post-Mao era’, China Information, 20, 553–85.The “third spring” of urban planning in China: the resurrection of professional planning in the post-Mao era China Information 20 553 85 Google Scholar

LI, B. (1993), ‘Danwei culture as urban culture in modern China: the case of Beijing from 1949 to 1979’, in G. Guldin and A. Southall (eds), Urban Anthropology in China, Leiden, E. J. Brill, 345–52.Danwei culture as urban culture in modern China: the case of Beijing from 1949 to 1979 Urban Anthropology in China 345 52 Google Scholar

LOW, N. P. (1996), ‘Urban planning, regulation theory and institutionalism, the planner’s role in the global economy after Fordism’, Housing, Theory and Society, 13, 59–78.Urban planning, regulation theory and institutionalism, the planner’s role in the global economy after Fordism’ Housing, Theory and Society 13 59 78 Google Scholar

MA, L. J. C. (2004), ‘Economic reforms, urban spatial restructuring, and planning in China’, Progress in Planning, 61, 237–60.Economic reforms, urban spatial restructuring, and planning in ChinaProgress in Planning 61 237 60 Google Scholar

MA, L. J. C. (2005), ‘Urban administrative restructuring, changing scale relations and local economic development in China’, Political Geography, 24, 477–97.Urban administrative restructuring, changing scale relations and local economic development in China Political Geography 24 477 97 Google Scholar

MARCUSE, P. (1976), ‘Professional ethics and beyond: values in planning’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 42, 264–74.Professional ethics and beyond: values in planning Journal of the American Institute of Planners 42 264 74 Google Scholar

MENG, X., CREGORY, R. and WANG, Y. (2005), ‘Poverty, inequality and growth in urban China, 1986–2000’, Journal of Comparative Economics, 33, 710–29.Poverty, inequality and growth in urban China, 1986–2000 Journal of Comparative Economics 33 710 29 Google Scholar

MOLOTCH, H. (1976), ‘The city as a growth machine: toward a political economy of place’, American Journal of Sociology, 82, 309–32.The city as a growth machine: toward a political economy of place American Journal of Sociology 82 309 32 Google Scholar

MOULAERT, F. (2005), ‘Institutional economics and planning theory: a partnership between ostriches?’, Planning Theory, 4, 21–32.Institutional economics and planning theory: a partnership between ostriches? Planning Theory 4 21 32 Google Scholar

NEWMAN, P. and THORNLEY, A. (1996a), Urban Planning in Europe, London, Routledge.Urban Planning in Europe Google Scholar

NEWMAN, P. and THORNLEY, A. (1996b), Urban Planning in Europe: International Competition, National Systems, and Planning Projects, London, Routledge.Urban Planning in Europe: International Competition, National Systems, and Planning Projects Google Scholar

NORTH, D. C. (1990), Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance Google Scholar

OI, J. C. (1992), ‘Fiscal reform and the economic foundations of local state corporatism in China’, World Politics, 45, 99–126.Fiscal reform and the economic foundations of local state corporatism in China World Politics 45 99 126 Google Scholar

ROGERS, E. (2003), Diffusion of Inovations (5th edn), New York, NY, Free Press.Diffusion of Inovations Google Scholar

ROWEIS, S. T. (1988), ‘Knowledge-power and professional practice’, in P. Knox (ed.), The Design Professions and the Built Environment, London, Croom Helm, 175–207.Knowledge-power and professional practice The Design Professions and the Built Environment 175 207 Google Scholar

STARK, D. and BRUSZT, L. (2001), ‘One way or multiple paths: for a comparative sociology of East European capitalism’, American Journal of Sociology, 106, 1129–37.One way or multiple paths: for a comparative sociology of East European capitalism American Journal of Sociology 106 1129 37 Google Scholar

STATE COUNCIL OF P. R. CHINA (2006), ‘China’s 2005 White Paper on Progress in Human Rights’ (white paper), Beijing, State Council of P. R. China.China’s 2005 White Paper on Progress in Human Rights Google Scholar

STOUGH, R. R. (2004), ‘Institutions, land use and transportation’, in D. A. Hensher, K. J. Button, K. E. Haynes and P. R. Stopher (eds), Handbook of Transport Geography and Spatial Systems, London, Elsevier, 27–42.Institutions, land use and transportation Handbook of Transport Geography and Spatial Systems 27 42 Google Scholar

STREECK, W. and THELEN, K. (2005), ‘Introduction: institutional change in advanced political economics’, in W. Streeck and K. Thelen (eds), Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 3–39.Introduction: institutional change in advanced political economics Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies 3 39 Google Scholar

SUTCLIFFE, A. (1981), Towards the Planned City, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.Towards the Planned City Google Scholar

TANG, W. -S. (2000), ‘Chinese urban planning at fifty: an assessment of the planning theory literature’, Journal of Planning Literature, 14, 347–66.Chinese urban planning at fifty: an assessment of the planning theory literature Journal of Planning Literature 14 347 66 Google Scholar

TAYLOR, N. (1998), Urban Planning Theory Since 1945, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage.Urban Planning Theory Since 1945 Google Scholar

TEWDWR-JONES, M. and ALLMENDINGER, P. (2002), ‘Communicative planning, collaborative planning, and the post-positivist planning theory landscape’, in P. Allmendinger and M. Tewdwr-Jones (eds), Planning Futures: New Directions for Planning Theory, London, Routledge, 206–16.Communicative planning, collaborative planning, and the post-positivist planning theory landscape Planning Futures: New Directions for Planning Theory 206 16 Google Scholar

THELEN, K. (1999), ‘Historical institutionalism in comparative studies politics’, Annual Review of Political Science, 2, 369–404.Historical institutionalism in comparative studies politics Annual Review of Political Science 2 369 404 Google Scholar

UN-HABITAT (2009), Planning Sustainable Cities: UN-HABITAT Practices and Perspectives, London, Earthscan.Planning Sustainable Cities: UN-HABITAT Practices and Perspectives Google Scholar

WARD, S. V. (1999), ‘The international diffusion of planning: a review and a Canadian case study’, International Planning Studies, 4, 53–77.The international diffusion of planning: a review and a Canadian case studyInternational Planning Studies 4 53 77 Google Scholar

WARD, S. V. (2005), ‘The emergence of the global planner’, Town Planning Review, 76, 141–99.The emergence of the global planner Town Planning Review 76 141 99 Google Scholar

WEYLAND, K. (2008), ‘Toward a new theory of institutional change’, World Politics, 60, 281–314.Toward a new theory of institutional change World Politics 60 281 314 Google Scholar

WU, F. (2007), ‘Re-orientation of the city plan: strategic planning and design competition in China’, Geoforum, 38, 379–92.Re-orientation of the city plan: strategic planning and design competition in China Geoforum 38 379 92 Google Scholar

YEH, A. G. O. and WU, F. (1998), ‘The transformation of the urban planning system in China from a centrally-planned to transitional economy’, Progress in Planning, 51, 162–252.The transformation of the urban planning system in China from a centrally-planned to transitional economy Progress in Planning 51 162 252 Google Scholar

ZHANG, T. (2002), ‘Urban development and a socialist pro-growth coalition in Shanghai’, Urban Affairs Review, 37, 475–99.Urban development and a socialist pro-growth coalition in Shanghai Urban Affairs Review 37 475 99 Google Scholar

ZHANG, Y. and FANG, K. (2004), ‘Is history repeating itself ?: from urban renewal in the United States to inner-city redevelopment in China’, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 23, 286–98.Is history repeating itself ?: from urban renewal in the United States to inner-city redevelopment in China Journal of Planning Education and Research 23 286 98 Google Scholar

ZHAO, P. (2011), ‘Managing urban growth in a transforming China: evidence from Beijing’, Land Use Policy, 28, 96–109.Managing urban growth in a transforming China: evidence from BeijingLand Use Policy 28 96 109 Google Scholar

ZHAO, P., LU, B. and WOLTJER, J. (2009a), ‘Conflicts in urban fringe in the transformation era: an examination of performance of the metropolitan growth management in Beijing’, Habitat International, 33, 347–56.Conflicts in urban fringe in the transformation era: an examination of performance of the metropolitan growth management in Beijing Habitat International 33 347 56 Google Scholar

ZHAO, P., LU, B. and WOLTJER, J. (2009b), ‘Growth management and decentralisation: an assessment of urban containment policies in the transformation era in Beijing’, International Development Planning Review, 31, 55–80.Growth management and decentralisation: an assessment of urban containment policies in the transformation era in Beijing International Development Planning Review 31 55 80 Google Scholar

ZHENG, S., LONG, F., FAN, C. C. and GU, Y. (2009), ‘Urban villages in China: a 2008 survey of migrant settlements in Beijing’, Eurasian Geography and Economics, 50, 425–46.Urban villages in China: a 2008 survey of migrant settlements in BeijingEurasian Geography and Economics 50 425 46 Google Scholar

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Zhao, Pengjun