Dependent Interdependence:Government/Non-profit Relationship in Human Services in China

Dependent Interdependence:Government/Non-profit Relationship in Human Services in China

The idea behind the «One day, one team, one chapter…» series is to present the four books published in the framework of the ICSEM Project and the Empower-SE Action, Social Enterprise in Asia, Social Enterprise in Latin America, Social Enterprise in Western Europe and Social Enterprise in Central and Eastern Europe, and to introduce the so many incredible people who took part in the crazy “ICSEM adventure”!

Towards a more equal paradigm of public/private partnership?

Entrepreneurial non-profit is regarded as one of the main models of the social enterprise. Non-profit organisations in China could be viewed as social enterprises just regarding the great social innovation they have been responsible for. This chapter examines the relationship between the government and non-profits in the field of human services in China. The authors develop the expression “dependent interdependence” to refer to this relationship, which is different from the government/associations (i.e. member-serving NPOs) relationship, that is usually explained within the theoretical framework of civil society and corporatism. To do so, the article starts with a brief historical review of government/non-profit relations in China. Then, it documents the diverse types of organisations that make up the non-profit sector, and the considerable scale of human services institutions this sector already includes. After analysing government/non-profit relations in the field of social assistance, a major subfield of human services in China, and the variety of tools the government has adopted to support the non-profit sector, the chapter concludes about the key characteristics of this dependent interdependence relationship and claims that this government-dominated asymmetric relationship will most likely be maintained in some way while moving toward a more equal relationship paradigm of public/private partnership.

The country team: Zhang Yuanfeng & Zhang Huifeng (China)

Zhang Yuanfeng graduated from Wuhan University (China) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 1992, a Master’s Degree in Business Management in 1998 and a PhD in Business Management in 2003. She is a professor at the School of Public Administration, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law (ZUEL, Wuhan). She was the founder and has been the director of the Philanthropy Research Centre of ZUEL since June 2020. She has also been the CEO of Hubei Philanthropy Innovation Study Association (HPISA) since August 2021, and a senior fellow of the Co-Innovation Centre of Community Governance in Hubei Province since 2015. Visiting Scholar at Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh (Sept. 2007 – Sept. 2008). She was a visiting Scholar at the Centre for Civil Society Studies, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University (US) from August 2013 to January 2014, and a visiting scholar at the Business School of Warwick University (UK) from June 2018 to October 2018. Her research focuses on non-profit organisations, philanthropy and management. She has published three dozens of articles and five books so far: On Peter F. Drucker’s Management Thought (1st ed. in 2007; 2nd ed. in 2017); Social Entrepreneurship (2013); Management of Nonprofit Organizations: Theory, System and Practice (2016); Cultivation and Supervision of the Nonprofit Organizations (2019); and Government Purchase of Services From Social Organizations in China (2019).


Zhang Huifeng is a graduate student of the School of Public Administration, Zhongnan University of Economics & Law (China).




Visit the Routledge website to get information about the four ICSEM books as well as the full Social Enterprise and Social Innovation series. You can also contact these national researchers to learn more about their work or download the ICSEM Project’s flyer here.

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