[Preprint] Co-optation or Restriction: The Differentiated Government Control over Foundations in China


Qun Wang
Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs

A central theme in contemporary China scholarship is the state-society relations, in particular, the government-NGO relations. However, despite the understanding that the government plays an important role in NGO development and differentiates its relations with NGOs, we still don’t know why and how. This paper adopts the critical discourse analysis approach to examine the foundation mission statements. The finding of distinct patterns of “harmony” and “obeying the law” allows the author to construct a two-dimensional control mechanism composed of government’s intention to co-opt or restrict a foundation. Through multinomial logistic regression, the paper finds that foundation funding sufficiency leads to government’s strong intention to co-opt and weak intention to restrict. That is, resource dependence can break certain institutional constraints such as government ties and issue sensitivity. It proves the Chinese government can adapt to the socioeconomic conditions and impose calculated control over foundations accordingly.

Keywords: government-NGO relations, foundation, NGO governance, resource dependence, institutional theory

Full text available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2846635