Mapping the Representational Dimensions of Nonprofit Organizations in China

Chao Guo and Zhibin Zhang

To what extent do China’s non-profit and voluntary organizations have the capacities to represent effectively the interests of their constituents? In this paper, we examine the prevalence of various representational dimensions in these organizations. Our survey findings provide evidence that, other things being equal, an organization’s levels of descriptive and participatory representation have a positive and significant impact on its levels of substantive and symbolic representation. Our findings also show that organizational type matters: social organizations are more substantively and symbolically representative than private non-enterprise organizations, whereas advocacy-oriented organizations are more symbolically representative than those that are not advocacy-oriented. Our case studies further illustrate how the typical advocacy-oriented organization differs from the service-oriented organization in the development of its ‘representational mix’, how an organization’s ‘representational mix’ evolves over time, and how the relationship between the organization and its supervisory agency affects its various representational dimensions.

Public Administration 91, No. 2 (2011): 325-346