1st Edition

The Governance of Philanthropic Foundations in Authoritarian China A Power Perspective

By Qian Wei Copyright 2023
    142 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    142 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is the first monograph to provide a multilevel analysis of power dynamics underlying the governance of philanthropic foundations in the authoritarian context of China.

    As a special kind of organization with a democratic culture, Chinese foundations’ governance is under more pressure than we realize. The government has been evolving its methods to impose stringent control over foundations (Chapter 3) and “purer” foundations highly dependent on individual donations are more likely to adopt authoritarian leadership styles rather than being mechanisms spreading democratic values in Chinese society (Chapter 4). However, this practice does not come without a price. Given power’s double-edge of both enabling and constraining effects, although strongman leaders may use their power to get things done, their power may also cause the problem of accountability (Chapter 5). Overall, Chinese society is a stable system with authoritarian power modes. This system is not static but in constant flux, homogenizing incompatible parts until all units of the system adopt the same power mode. This book establishes a comprehensive and bleak picture of the unfavorable conditions foundations in China face and provides valuable insights to understand the future of the nonprofit sector in China.

    This book will be of interest to students and researchers in the fields of sociology, political science, and nonprofit studies (NGO management). It will also be a valuable resource for NGP practitioners.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables


    1 What We Talk About When We Talk About Governance: A Power Perspective and Three Levels of Analysis

    2 CSO Governance in China Through the Lens of Power: Beyond the Civil Society-Corporatism Dichotomy?

    3 Power at the Macro Level: Government’s Invisible Control Over Foundations in China

    4 Power at the Meso Level: “Purer” Organizations, Less Democratic

    5 Power at the Micro Level: CEO Power as a Double-Edged Sword

    6 Conclusion: A Bleak Picture

    Appendix A: Recruitment Letter

    Appendix B: Survey Questionnaire

    Appendix C: Descriptive Statistics of the Sample Drawn From the Survey



    Qian Wei holds a PhD in Sociology, and she is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. Her research interests broadly focus on the sociology of organization, political sociology, civil society, international development, and quantitative methods. Particularly, she has published research on NGOs in authoritarian China, nonprofit leaders’ power, and human rights in developing countries. Her work has appeared in journals such as The Sociological Quarterly and VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.