Getting to know… Jie Gao


A series introducing the Visiting Scholars & Fellows in residence at HYI this year

Jie Gao (Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore)
HYI Visiting Scholar, 2022-23
“Transformation of the Socialist Planning System in Post-Mao China”

What got you interested in your research topic?

Starting from my graduate study, I have been intrigued by the growing significance of performance metrics in government reforms worldwide over the past few decades, particularly within China’s political and governance system. My early inspiration came from my fieldwork in rural China, which highlighted a striking contrast between China and many other Western and Asian countries in terms of the performance targets they use. While targets such as GDP growth rate, family planning, and party-building are crucial for Chinese local governments, most other countries primarily focus on targets related to public service delivery. Why do these countries differ in their approaches to managing bureaucratic performance? How has the ubiquitous use of performance metrics and indicators affected public policies and citizens’ lives? How do public officials react to these performance measurement and ranking systems? These questions have been driving my research in this field.

Outside of work, where can we find you?

It is difficult to pick just one favorite spot as there are numerous great places in this area. Some of the places my family frequents include the Cambridge Public Library, the Boston Children’s Museum, the Boston Science Museum, and the Harvard Museum of Arts. You can also find me at my kid’s favorite playgrounds nearby Peabody Terrace, where we stay. Furthermore, we thoroughly enjoy taking walks along the Charles River and observing Canadian geese, squirrels, and hares on the riverside.

What would you want to do most as a career if you were not in academia?

I would find joy in being a journalist or a writer. Reading and writing are my two biggest hobbies, and I would be delighted to have a profession that combines these interests. In addition, I love animals. I would love to work in a field dedicated to protecting animals and their habitats, where I can contribute to safeguarding their living environments.

Read Prof. Gao’s bio on our website.

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