| John Donaldson, (2009). "Why do Similar Areas Adopt Different Developmental Strategies? A Study of Two Puzzling Chinese Provinces." Journal of Contemporary China 18(60): 421-44.|
Focusing on Guizhou and Yunnan, two provinces with similar geographies, institutions and natural resource endowments, this paper asks why provincial leaders adopted markedly disparate economic strategies. Using data from the early 1980s to 2003 gathered from fieldwork and secondary sources, it focuses on three political factors purported to explain differences in provincial policy: (a) constraints and opportunities from central authorities; (b) characteristics of the provinces; and (c) attributes of individual provincial leaders. I argue thatwhile the center constrains and encourages certain actions and approaches in the provinces, the experiences and background of individual provincial leaders further affects the choice of strategies implemented there. Moreover, once a particular course is set and receives central support, a formof path dependency can encourage the strategy to continue even after the original leaders have departed. While emphasizing the importance of characteristics of local leaders and their relationship with the center, the paper questions the assumptions on which research focusing on elite characteristics has so far been based, and suggests alternative approaches.