Controlling industrial pollution in urban China : Towards a more effective institutional milieu in the Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau?

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

10 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations


  • Carlos Wing-Hung Lo
  • Ning Liu
  • Pansy Hon Ying Li
  • Wei Wang


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-258
Journal / PublicationChina Information
Issue number2
Online published5 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


This article traces the institutional development of environmental regulation in urban China, using data from three rounds of surveys of enforcement officials in the Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau in 2000, 2006 and 2013. We found that the changes to institutional contexts of regulatory control appear mainly in the fluctuating degree of support from various non-state actors, but not from government entities and regulated industries. While we detected visible organizational changes in local environmental enforcement bureaus, there was also organizational stability. First, the quality of enforcement officials has improved, as reflected by a higher level of education, first from 2000–2006 and then from 2006–2013. Second, the perceived value of enforcement officials in environmental protection was considerably enhanced in the period 2000–2006, and then remained stable from 2006 to 2013. Third, enforcement obstacles in terms of administrative ambiguity remained virtually unchanged from 2000 to 2013, while enforcement power deficit, resource scarcity and procedural ambiguity became more severe. Overall, the general perception of enforcement effectiveness at both the unit and organizational levels has remained the same over the past 13 years, whereas individual-level enforcement was perceived to have become more effective (with significant changes mainly taking place from 2006 to 2013). On the basis of these empirical results, we found that the institutional conditions for stricter enforcement in Guangzhou were visibly improved from 2000 to 2006, but only modestly improved between 2006 and 2013.

Research Area(s)

  • enforcement officials, environmental orientation, environmental regulation, industrial pollution, regulatory enforcement, urban China

Citation Format(s)