China's IT Leadership

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2005-08-03

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With the rapid expansion of China's information and communications technology (ICT) sector, there has emerged a strategic group of IT leaders. These IT leaders are characterized by their "amphibiousness". On the one hand, they have become bridges that introduce Western concepts of competition and decentralization to China. On the other, they do not want to challenge the state because they feel comfortable with their personal ties to promote their business interests. They belong to the "non-critical realm" of social elites and have not coalesced into a coherent and organized social force. Even though they may not represent an independently innovative force that would push for political change in China, they have become catalysts and have created part of the necessary conditions for political changes, for example enhancing institutional performance of the state and creating a forum for public debate and political participation of the grassroots. Therefore, they have a subtle political impact on state responsiveness and civic participation. By carefully contrasting the autonomous, parasitic, symbiotic, negotiating, and amphibious actor models, this study of IT leadership in China emphasizes the creative aspect of politics--their visions, craftsmanship, and courage for ICT diffusion in China. In contrast with the top-down or bottom-up paths of Communist transitions in East Central Europe, the Chinese path seems to be grounded in the middle. The conclusion of this dissertation is that in a time of uncertainty, a strategic group of IT leaders starts to inspire and lead this nation in new directions like a spark when China is in desperate need of a systematic and convincing rationale and vision for its progress in an era of great transformation.

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