Accountability through public participation? Experiences from the ten-thousand-citizen review in Nanjing, China

Yanwei Li*, Xiaolei Qin, Joop Koppenjan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In this contribution, we report on an in-depth case study of the ten-thousand-citizen review in Nanjing, an initiative to deal with the accountability deficit with which many Chinese governments have to cope. Nanjing Municipality invited citizens to evaluate officials’ performance, and their reviews influenced the scores of officials’ remunerations and even their careers. On the basis of theory, in this study, we develop a typology that is used to analyse how the introduction of this new horizontal practice of “letting citizens judge” influenced the existing accountability relations and how these relationships evolved over time. Our findings show that citizens’ involvement initially resulted in a practice in which types of accountability were mixed and resulted in a situation of multiple accountabilities disorder. Only gradually were accountability characteristics aligned and the accountability deficit and overload reduced. This demonstrates the difficulties and challenges of introducing horizontal accountability arrangements in existing accountability systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-62
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Public Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully thank three anonymous reviewers and the editors of Journal of Public Policy, for their constructive comments and helpful suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press


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