Postsocialist transition around the world offers us a rich opportunity to deepen our understanding of the role of structures, actors, and politics in political and economic change. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), twenty years into its transition effort, raises fundamental questions about the development of professions and their relationship with the party-state. Given a political system characterized by bureaucratic rigidity, poor information flow, and a politicized policy-making environment, this book chronicles the emergence of professionalism among what are loosely termed the young reformers. In so doing, I answer the question of how the institution of research is changing to reflect a higher degree of professionalism within a restrictive bureaucratic environment. At the core of the question of professionalism is a group of actors who have impacted the field of economics and economic research, and the policy-making environment in ways that belie their numbers. In short, they are contributing to China’s transition as professionals. As with other communist systems, the early political arrangements made among China’s leadership created deep disincentives for innovation as interests became quite vested and bureaucratic territory became well defined. At the outset of China’s reform movement in the 1980s, this built-in resistance required a leader interested in crafting reform policies that were a significant departure from politics as usual to look outside the established bureaucratic and research organizations in order to foster novel policy options and new approaches to reform. 1 This process began with the creation of the SRI.