There is surprisingly little evidence about the effects of these new contracting arrangements in China on welfare provision or on NGO state-relations. This projects aims to fill this gap in knowledge by investigating how the Chinese government formally procures welfare services from NGOs through contracts, why local government officials and NGOs agree or not to enter into contracts for service delivery, and the effects of this on welfare services provision and on the development of an NGO sector. It comes at a timely moment when the Chinese government is rolling out service procurement from NGOs across the country to expand welfare services provider capacity. As services sub-contracting from NGOs lies at the intersection of concerns around stability and welfare, it provides an ideal lens through which to observe how these processes of readjusting NGO-state relations unfold and their implications for NGO development and welfare services provision. The research will not only generate new empirical evidence about this process but also contribute to themes at the heart of social policy and political science, such as welfare-state building; sub-contracting arrangements and their impact on welfare provision; civil society development in authoritarian regimes; and the relationship between welfare and authoritarianism.
The research has several objectives:
a) To collect and analyse the specific legislation, policies and contractual rules governing the procurement of welfare services from NGOs in China at national and sub-national levels, and information about the areas of debate and contestation in their design and implementation;
b) To generate original empirical data on the incentives for government officials and NGOs at sub-national level to engage in service delivery contracts, and assess the impact of sub-contracting on NGO operations and on the dynamics of NGO-state relations;
c) At the policy and practical level, to highlight examples of best practice in terms of regulatory and policy arrangements, and NGO-state relations that can inform policy development in China and other similar contexts.
d) To develop conceptualisation of emerging models of sub-contracting and of NGO-state relations and to advance theoretical understanding of welfare-state building and civil society development in China.
To address this gap in understanding about welfare services sub-contracting to NGOs in China, this project poses four research questions (RQ) related to the four objectives above.
- RQ1 What legislative, regulatory and policy changes have been introduced at national, sub-national and sector levels to facilitate the contracting of welfare services by NGOs? What have been the points of contention and debate?
- RQ2: Why do NGOs and local governments enter into service delivery sub-contracting arrangements? How does sub-contracting affect NGO operations and NGO-state relations?
- RQ3: what kind of best practices can be observed and could be shared?
- RQ4: What kinds of models of welfare services sub-contracting to NGOs and NGO-state relations are emerging? What is the consequence of this changing relationship for China’s authoritarianism