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Frontiers of Economics in China

Front Econ Chin    2011, Vol. 6 Issue (4) : 616-637
Confucianism and the Legalism: A Model of the National Strategy of Governance in Ancient China
Haiwen Zhou()
Department of Economics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
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The Confucian school emphasizes family value, moral persuasions, and personal relations. Under Confucianism, there is a free-rider issue in the provision of efforts. Since national officials are chosen through personal relations, they may not be the most capable. The Legalist school emphasizes the usage of incentives and formal institutions. Under the Legalism, the ruler provides strong incentives to local officials which may lead to side effects because some activities are noncontractible. The cold-blood image of the Legalism may alien citizens. By exploiting the paternalistic relationship between the ruler and the ruled under Confucianism and the strength of institution-building under the Legalism, the ruler may benefit from a combination of Confucianism approach and the Legalism approach as the national strategy of governance. As each strategy has its pros and cons, which strategy of is optimal depends on factors such as the minimum enforceable level of public service and the level of institution building costs.

Keywords Confucianism      Legalism      national strategy of governance      ancient China      incentive provision      culture     
Corresponding Author(s): Haiwen Zhou,   
Issue Date: 05 December 2011
 Cite this article:   
Haiwen Zhou. Confucianism and the Legalism: A Model of the National Strategy of Governance in Ancient China[J]. Front Econ Chin, 2011, 6(4): 616-637.
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