Managed social innovation : The case of government-sponsored venture philanthropy in Shanghai

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Yijia Jing
  • Ting Gong

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-245
Journal / PublicationAustralian Journal of Public Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


In recent years, a model of 'managed social innovation' seems to be emerging in China where local governments take the lead in generating and implementing new citizen-oriented products, processes, and services; the central government has embraced such local innovative activities as part of its high profile 'harmonious society' strategy. The aim is to not only accommodate but also promote and craft civil society initiatives. However, questions remain as to why governments have actively engineered such social innovations and how and to what extent they can be successful in balancing potential conflicts between their own pursuits and those initiated by citizens. In this article, we examine a hybrid form of social innovation combining government engineering and citizen participation as the Chinese government's most recent strategy to cope with the rise of nonprofit organisations. Empirically, we focus on a case of social innovation, the government-sponsored venture philanthropy program in Shanghai. We argue that managed social innovation may create mixed results. It deviates from a genuine citizen-empowered process due to the imposed regulatory hurdles, and the lack of significant citizen-based inputs. On the other hand, it may still provide space and resources for new social ideas, strategies, and organisations. The Chinese government has demonstrated some success in managing these social innovations but faces dilemmas in managing government-nonprofit relations because of embedded institutional requirements. © 2012 The Authors Australian Journal of Public Administration © 2012 National Council of the Institute of Public Administration Australia.

Research Area(s)

  • Citizen engagement, Dual management system, Government engineering, Managed social innovation, Venture philanthropy