Negotiating Collaboration in the Community: NGOs’ Community Embeddedness in China

Dr Shirley Yang1

1The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, , Hong Kong

Considerable research has focused on the state-NGO relations in China, while scant attention has been paid to the dynamic interactions among a range of stakeholders inside the community, including not only the grassroots authority and NGOs but also constituencies that NGOs serve and other community members. Using social work organizations as an example, this research explores the role of Chinese NGOs in community governance that involves various players. In recent years, the Chinese government has relaxed NGO registration and increased public procurement from NGOs. As a result, numerous social work organizations are invited to work in communities across the country. However, their effectiveness in facilitating community governance is varying due to their degree of community embeddedness-which not only includes institutional but also social embeddedness in the local community. Attempts at collaboration among various stakeholders in the community are more likely to succeed if, on the one hand, NGOs’ stance and agenda are closely associated with the real needs of their constituencies, and on the other, they have neither too close or distant relationships with the grassroots authority.


Dr. Shirley Yang is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and attendee of 2019 APSA Asia Pacific Workshop in Penang, Malaysia. She received her Bachelor’s degree in International Politics from the Renmin University of China, Master in Social Policy from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Ph.D. in Political Science from Hong Kong Baptist University. Her research interests encompass civil society and NGOs, labor studies and social policy. She has published articles in China Information and the Handbook on Urban Development in China.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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