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
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Abstract

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.

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