How does the organizational structure of the state affect its ability to provide public goods, such as infrastructure? Drawing on two years of fieldwork in China and India, this study shows how differences in the organizational forms of the Chinese and Indian railway bureaucracies play a crucial role in their ability to complete railway projects. China’s railway bureaucracy is not strictly hierarchical but rather nodal in structure with key state actors, such as special-purpose state-owned project corporations, providing mechanisms for project coordination and accountability. India’s railway bureaucracy, in contrast, is diffuse in structure with many overlapping lines of authority that make coordination more challenging and responsibility for outcomes less clear. Taken together, these findings suggest that the role of the state in supporting development may depend in part on the very structure of the bureaucracy itself.
- Effron Center for the Study of America
- The Program in Asian American Studies