Schlæger, J., Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen
This paper analyses the role of the Internet in a case of public service provision reform in Chengdu, China. Whereas previous research has mainly described the technology and management aspects of similar programmes and provided a summary of some of the first effects, this paper critically addresses a broader range of questions related to the political consequences in terms of regime legitimacy. The case documents the creation of government affairs service centres with new Internet based management systems. It illustrates the mechanisms of how 'running around' between government offices to acquire business licences and paying tax has been reduced through a one-stop model. Important is the inclusion of a virtual panopticon which allows real time monitoring of government employees and produces a 'red alert' if a time commitment for case processing is exceeded. The centres at the same time function as 'linkage institutions' keeping clients at arms length from the core bureaucracy. Considering these findings, the paper finally discusses how the Internet plays a role in creating regime legitimacy.