The governance of non-governmental organizations in an authoritarian state: evidence from Chinese foundations

Wei, Qian (2019) The governance of non-governmental organizations in an authoritarian state: evidence from Chinese foundations. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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How are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) governed in the authoritarian context of China? Adopting a perspective of power, this thesis investigates in-depth the governance of Chinese NGOs at the macro-, meso- and micro-level in three chapters. Multiple statistical techniques are used to analyze primary as well as secondary data collected from philanthropic foundations in China. The first chapter focuses on the societal level, examining how the authoritarian government governs and steers the NGO sector at the macro level. Through multilevel modeling, the findings show that the Chinese government has adopted a more sophisticated, indirect approach rather than using direct control to govern and regulate NGOs in China. The second chapter focuses on the organizational level, examining the internal governance and particularly the leadership style within Chinese NGOs. Through box plots and ordinary least squares regression, the results suggest that leaders of Chinese NGOs have a more democratic-orientated leadership style than people from other types of organizations such as government agencies and private corporations; however, this leadership style becomes less democratic under the influence of public donations in China. The third chapter turns to the individual level, conceptualizing and measuring CEO power by proposing a two-dimensional (structural power and individual power) framework and multiple indicators. Through factor analysis and ordered logistic regression, the findings show that CEOs’ individual power has no significant effects on financial performance, while structural power presents a double-edged effect: it is positively associated with one kind of organizational effectiveness (public donations) but has a negative impact on another (overhead costs). This thesis makes contributions to the literature in two ways: (1) theoretically, this study takes an under-explored power perspective, which not only provides a more consistent and unified perspective for understanding the public governance and nonprofit governance of NGOs but also sheds new light on these longstanding topics; (2) empirically, primary data on Chinese NGOs, especially regarding internal governance and management, are scarce. This thesis develops different ways to operationalize governance and power and also provides new empirical evidence on the organizational governance of NGOs in China. In summary, this thesis establishes a comprehensive picture of how NGOs are governed in the authoritarian context of China. As a special kind of organization with a democratic mandate, NGO governance in the authoritarian context of China is under more pressure than we realize.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 13856
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 152-180).
Keywords: Power, Governance, Quantitative Methods, China, NGOs
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: April 2019
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Non-governmental organizations--China; Authoritarianism--China; China--Politics and government--21st century

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