The proliferation of “wicked” policy problems in complex systems requires an experimental approach of problem-solving. Experimentalist governance offers a conducive framework through which to seek policy solutions amidst high levels of complexity in a multilevel governance structure. This study conceptualizes four distinctive experimental modalities based on varying levels of technical complexity and interest complexity, both of which represent salient constraints for policy reforms in a complex system, the health sector in particular. Trail-blazing pilots, crowdsourcing pilots, managed pilots, and road-testing pilots are all associated with distinct mechanisms of experimentation in a multilevel governance structure. Through four illustrative cases from China’s massive experimental program of public hospital reform, this study demonstrates how experimentalist governance seeks policy solutions in the health sector. Should governance arrangements, policy capacity, pragmatism, and informational devices become aligned in a conducive way, experimentalist governance can play an instrumental role in seeking solutions for difficult problems in a complex policy system. A governance structure capable of policy learning and adaptive management is the key. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
CitationHe, A. J., Fan, Y., & Su, R. (2022). Seeking policy solutions in a complex system: Experimentalist governance in China’s healthcare reform. Policy Sciences, 55(4), 755-776. doi: 10.1007/s11077-022-09482-2
- Policy experiment
- Policy learning
- Health policy