Local Governments’ Strategy for the Development of Social Organizations

A Study Based on 312 Prefecture-Level Panel Data in China

in The China Nonprofit Review
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



In recent years, the central government encourages local governments to innovate the system for social organization management propitious to the development of social organizations, but social organizations are double-edged, which can both alleviate the social management pressure of local governments and challenge their authority. Therefore, local governments have to implement the strategy of differential control for managing social organizations. The theory of differential control is an important paradigm for explaining the government-society relationship in China, as it provides a theoretical framework for understanding local governments’ behavioral logic of developing social organizations, but local governments’ specific application and change of the strategy about differential control still need to be further explored. Based on the above observation, by collecting the panel data of 312 prefecture-level cities of China in 2008-2014, we have discovered that local governments, on the whole, have adopted the development strategy of “developing quantity and restraining capability.” They give priority to developing social organizations promoting economic development and social service, but implement strict control over environmental, legal, and international foreign-related organizations affecting the realization of economic goals or political stability. With a more developed economy and better fiscal revenues, a more lenient environment is given to social organizations by local governments, and social organizations are more developed. But the control over environmental social organizations does not change with the changes of economic development or fiscal revenues. This study not only expands the theory of differential control and provides a new understanding of the relations between government and social organizations, but also reveals local governments’ behavioral logic of developing social organizations, which also provides a new perspective for understanding local governments’ behaviors in developing social organizations.



Cai Tuo, “Market Economy and Civil Society,” Tianjin Social Sciences 3 (1997): 18-25.

Chan, Kin-man, “Commentary on Hsu: Graduated control and NGO responses: Civil society as institutional logic,” Journal of Civil Society 6.3 (2010): 301-306.

Chao Xiaojing and Ren Baoping, “A Study of the Quality of Economic Growth in China under the Constraints of Resources and Environment,” China Population Resources and Environment 4 (2012): 102-107.

de Tocqueville, Alexis, The Old Regime and the Revolution, trans. Feng Tang, (Beijing: The Commercial Press, 2012), 15-30.

Deng Yanhua, “Public Budget and Modern State Governance,” Journal of Yangzhou University (Humanities and Social Sciences Edition) 5 (2015): 29-36.

Deng Zhenglai, State and Society: A Study of Civil Society in China (Beijing: Peking University Press, 2008), 10-45.

Deng Zhenglai, “‘Existential Wisdom Model’: An Examination of the Existing Theoretical Model of Research on China’s Civil Society,” Jilin University Journal Social Sciences Edition 2 (2011): 5-10.

Foster, Kenneth W., “Associations in the Embrace of an Authoritarian State: State Domination of Society?” Studies in Comparative International Development 35.4 (2001): 84-109.

Guan Bing, “Competitiveness and Reverse Embedment: Government Purchase of Services and Social Organization Development,” The Journal of Public Management 3 (2015): 83-91.

Huang Jianjun, et al.., “Thinking on Construction of the Relationship between Chinese Government and Social Organizations since Reform and Opening-up,” China Public Administration 7 (2016): 35-39.

Huang Xiaochun, “The Institutional Environment and Development of Social Organizations in Contemporary China,” China Social Science 9 (2015): 147-164.

Jin Bei, “A Study on the New Normal of Economic Development in China,” Chinese Industrial Economics 1 (2015): 5-18.

Kang Xiaoguang and Han Heng, “Differential Control: A Study on the State-Society Relationship in the Chinese Mainland,” The Study of Sociology 6 (2005): 73-88.

Kang Xiaoguang and Han Heng, “Administrative Absorption of Society: A Further Probe into the State-Society Relationship in Chinese Mainland,” Social Sciences in China: English Version 28.2 (2007): 116-128.

Li Chunxia, et al., “System Embedment, Organizational Response and the Involution of Public Services: An Empirical Study of the Purchase of Social Organization Services by the Beijing Municipal Government,” Guizhou Social Sciences 12 (2012): 130-132.

Li Guowu and Li Lu, “Social Demands, Resource Provision, Institutional Evolution and ngo Development,” Society 6 (2011): 74-102.

Liu Peng, “From Differential Control towards Embedded Regulation: ngo Regulatory Policy Innovations in China’s Local Governments,” Journal of Renmin University of China 5 (2011): 91-99.

Ma Qingyuet al., “The Development Index System for Social Organizations in China: Construction and Prediction,” China Public Administration 4 (2015): 68-78.

Migdal, Joel S., Atul Kohli, and Vivenne Shue, State Power and Social Forces: Domination and Transformation in the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 50-149.

Nee, Victor, “The Emergence of a Market Society: Changing Mechanisms of Stratification in China,” American Journal of Sociology 101.4 (1996): 908-949.

Qin Hongyuan and Fu Jianjun, “Logics, Process and Influence of Local Governments’ Fostering of Social Organizations from the Perspective of Corporatism: A Case Study of the Social Organization Development Practice in W Neighborhood of Chengdu,” Socialism Studies 6 (2013): 65-69.

Salamon, Lester M., Partners in Public Service: Government-Nonprofit Relations in the Modern Welfare State (Baltimore HU Press, 1995), 648.

Salamon, Lester M., Helmut K. Anheier, Regina List, Stefan Toepler, and S. Wojciech Sokolowski, Global Civil Society: Dimensions of the Nonprofit Sector, trans. Chen Yimeiet al. (Beijing: Peking University Press, 2007), 20-55.

Shea, Jennifer and Janey Qian Wang, “Revenue Diversification in Housing Nonprofits: Impact of State Funding Environments,” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 45.3 (2016): 548-567.

Schwartz, Jonathan, “Environmental NGOs in China: roles and limits,” Pacific Affairs 77.1 (2004): 28-49.

Song Chengcheng, et al. “The Development Mechanism of Autonomy of Non-profit Organizations in Cross-Departmental Collaboration,” The Journal of Public Management 4 (2013): 1-11.

Stafford, Charles, “Gifts, Favors and Banquets: the Art of Social Relationships in China,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2.1 (1996): 200-201.

Sun Fafeng, “Selective Support and Selective Control: New Developments in the Reform of the Social Organization Management System of China,” The Journal of Shanghai Administration Institute 5 (2015): 95-103.

Tang Rui and Liu Hongqin, “From gdp Tournament to Binary Competition: the Logics of Behavioral Changes of Local Governments in China: An Empirical Study Based on Chinese Provincial Panel Data in 1998-2006,” Journal of Public Management 1 (2012): 9-15.

Tang Wenyu, “Administrative Absorption of Service: A New Interpretation of the State-Society Relationship in Chinese Mainland,” The Journal of Public Management 1 (2010): 13-19.

Tang Wenyu, “How to Examine Chinese ngo-State Relations,” Journal of Public Administration 4 (2012): 145-158.

Teets, Jessica, “Reforming Service Delivery in China: The Emergence of a Social Innovation Model,” Journal of Chinese Political Science 17.1 (2012): 15-32.

Teets, Jessica. “Let Many Civil Societies Bloom: The Rise of Consultative Authoritarianism in China,” The China Quarterly 213 (2013): 19-38.

Teets, Jessica, “The Evolution of Civil Society in Yunnan Province: Contending Models of Civil Society Management in China,” Journal of Contemporary China 24.91 (2015): 158-175.

Wu Lei and Xu Jialiang, “A Study of the Tertiary Sector gdp Accounting System from the Perspective of Multi-Center Governance,” Study and Practice 2 (2016): 80-86.

Wang Ming and Tong Lei, “The Development and Role of NGOs in the Field of Environmental Protection,” Environmental Protection 5 (2003): 35-38.

Wang Ming and Tong Lei, “Analyses and Suggestions on the Reform of Dual Management System of Civil Organizations,” China Public Administration 4 (2007): 62-64.

Wang Ming and Tong Lei, Thirty Years of NGOs in China: Making for a Civil Society (Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2008), 20-201.

Wang Ming and Sun Weilin, “The System of Social Organization Management: Inner Logics and Developmental Trend,” China Public Administration 7 (2011): 1-21.

Wang Shaoguang and He Jianyu, “China’s Social Organization Revolution: Map of Chinese Associations,” Zhejiang Academic Journal 6 (2004): 71-77.

Wang Xiangmin, “Differential Governance and System Expansion: Social Organization Governance in Contemporary China,” The Journal of the East China Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences) 5 (2014): 87-96.

Wang Yuzhen and Wang Lihao, “Analysis of Provincial Development Difference of Social Organizations against the Backdrops of Governance Modernization,” China Public Administration, 10 (2016): 45-50.

Wu Yue, “Embedded Control: An Explanation of the Administrative Operation of Social Organizations: A Case Study Based on an Institution,” Journal of Public Administration 6 (2013): 107-127.

Xie Fei, “Local Governments’ Political Embedment of Social Organization Fostering: An Empirical Study Based on the Guangzhou Municipal Government Level,” The Journal of Guangzhou University: Social Sciences 6 (2015): 31-36.

Xue Quan, “Social Organization Development under the Pressure System Model: A Case Study of Wenzhou,” Journal of Public Management 4 (2015): 131-142.

Xu Yongguang, “Giving Up the Planned Economy Thinking and Co-Building a New Mechanism for the Development of Public Services,” Academic Exploration 1 2(2013): 5-6.

Yang Hongshan, “Integrated Governance: a Theoretical Model of Local Governance in China,” Expanding Horizon 3 (2015): 28-34.

Yan Rengyu, “From Social Management to Social Governance: History and Logics in the Reform of the Government-Society Relationship,” Contemporary World & Socialism 1 (2015): 165-170.

Zhu Jian’gang and Chen Anna, “The Relationship between Embedded Professional Social Work and Neighborhood Authority: A Case Study of a Government Purchase Service Project,” Study of Sociology 1 (2013): 43-63.

Zhou Li’an, “The System of Administrative Contracting,” Society 6 (2014): 36-49.

Zhou Li’an “Governing China’s Local Officials: An Analysis of Promotion Tournament Model,” Journal of Economic Research 7 (2007): 36-49.

Zhao Xiumei, “The State-Society Relationship in Community Administration: Observations of an ngo Involved in Community Public Services,” Open Times 4 (2008): 87-100.

Xie, Lie, “China’s Environmental Activism in the Age of Globalization,” Asian Politics & Policy 3(2) (2011): 207-224.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 251 251 10
Full Text Views 19 19 7
PDF Downloads 2 2 2
EPUB Downloads 2 2 2