Contracting Out Social Services in China’s Three First-Tier Cities: Exploring ‘Variation’ through the Eyes of NGO Practitioners

Ka Ho MOK, Zhuoyi WEN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


In the last two decades, the Chinese government has made serious attempts to enhance social provision by contracting out social services. Empirical evidence suggests that openness and flexibility of resource allocation gradually decrease from Guangzhou in southern China to Beijing in northern China, amongst China’s three first-tier cities. This study further reveals that state–non-governmental organisation (NGO) relations vary not only across geographical locations but also amongst service sectors governed by government departments and mass organisations. The varied state–NGO relations across geographical locations and service sectors manifest the complexity of the state–NGO collaboration under China’s fragmented authoritarian governance system. Different local circumstances and diverse considerations of local officials involving vertical and horizontal lines of authority accounted for the variations and complexity from the eyes of NGO practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank the respondents in China for sharing their experiences and observations related to the research project. The authors are also grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments, which truly improved the article.

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (GRF LU 13673016).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • Welfare contracting
  • governance
  • ; fragmented authoritarianism
  • state-NGO relations
  • China
  • fragmented authoritarianism


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