The Democratic Implications of npos and the Control Strategy of the State

A Comparative Analysis of China and the Netherlands

In: The China Nonprofit Review
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  • 1 Nonprofit Management, and the Relationship of NGOs and State
  • 2 Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam

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Liberal scholars attribute an essential role to nonprofit organizations (npos) in the process of democratization, due to their roles in raising public awareness and supervising the hegemony of the state. Nevertheless, the current literature has yet to pay sufficient attention to the ways in which governments respond to the dynamics of power. As argued in public rational choice theory, the government is a self-benefit maximizing bureaucrat that spares no effort to adopt various strategies aimed at keeping society under control. We have studied this postulation by comparing the two contrasting civil societies of China and the Netherlands. Results from our investigation of campaigning npos from China and the Netherlands confirm that states tend to apply a range of strategies (e.g., political restrictions and financial instruments) in order to assimilate npos into the developmental planning of the government (e.g., by stimulating the economic functions of npos while weakening their democratic functions in intangible ways).

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