One of the major issues concerning present-day public policy in a transitional and developing country is its ability to enhance the quality of urban living and individual social well-being in the context of rapid urban growth. A dramatic decline in overall job accessibility due to increases in commuting time is already a serious problem affecting the quality of urban living in Beijing. Understanding the impact of governance restructuring on overall job accessibility is of primary importance if politicians are to make policy innovations in development management. This paper applies the institutionalist approach to analyse the impact of governance restructuring on job accessibility. The analysis shows that current governance restructuring has a negative effect on overall job accessibility due to competition between different local governments increasing the degree of spatial fragmentation: revenue-enhancing development introducing constraints affecting the local jobs-housing balance; and the coexistence of the old planning system alongside the new market system leading to a fragmented land-use right transfer mechanism, intensifying scattered and low-density development. With respect to future policy, stronger municipal development management might be one direction in implementing public policy to enhance overall job accessibility. insofar as it addresses the negative impact of fragmented development management in the current transformation process. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.