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How May National Culture Shape Public Policy? The Case of Energy Policy in China

This paper explores how aspects of national culture may shape the design and implementation of public policy, using the example of energy policy in China. It focuses on cognitive style and on political and legal culture. China's energy policies display a combination of pragmatism, incrementalism, internal contradiction and ambiguity. This is consistent with evidence from experimental psychology and history that the development of Chinese and East Asian cognitive styles have taken a path distinct from those of Western civilizations with their Greek philosophical heritage. These variations of cognitive style between cultures are reflected in brain function and genes. Policy implementation also bears features from imperial times in the political culture of China's Communist Party and the contemporary legal system. These arguments reinforce existing calls for caution when seeking to transfer energy or other public policy approaches between countries with different cultures.

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Keywords: China, culture, energy policy, cognition, political culture, legal culture

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.3.pand

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Published in Volume 43, Number 3 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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