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To Have Versus To Have Not: A Cross-City Configurational Analysis of Social Service Contracting


Bin Chen, Jiahuan Lu, Qiang Dong

Corresponding authors: Qiang Dong, e-mail: dongqiang@cau.edu.cn

American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 52, No.4, 2022


Abstract: This study employs a fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to explore how combinations of demand- and supply-side factors jointly shape the scale of government-nonprofit contracting in social services across 38 Chinese cities. Our analysis reveals a huge disparity by identifying two pathways to large-scale government contracting for “to-have” (well-resourced cities with low service needs but a well-developed nonprofit sector) versus the other two pathways to small-scale government contracting for “to-have-not” (poorly-resourced cities with an underdeveloped nonprofit sector struggling with meeting high service needs). The study contributes to the literature by highlighting how different demand- and supply-side factors can complement each other to form different combinations in shaping the scale of government contracting with new empirical evidence from an authoritarian context. The rise of government-nonprofit contracting in China is more supply-driven, reflecting the government's active role in cultivating the nonprofit sector development. The findings also raise an important policy issue of accessibility and equity in social service provision.

Keywords: government contracting; government-nonprofit relations; qualitative comparative analysis


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To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1177/02750740211060037