Managed Social Innovation: The Case of Government-Sponsored Venture Philanthropy in Shanghai (政府管理下的社会创新:以上海市政府发起的公益创投为例)

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Abstract

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.

“政府管理下的社会创新”模式近年来在中国的社会管理实践中逐渐出现,即地方政府率先创造和实施一些具有公民导向的新产品、过程和服务,而中央政府倾向于肯定这些地方创新行为,作为其高调提出的和谐社会策略的一部分。这种新生的模式不仅接受而且进一步倡导和型塑来自公民社会的创意。在这种发展的背后,引人注意的是为什么政府会积极推进这些社会创新,同时又是如何并且多大程度上成功地平衡了其与公民之间可能存在的目标冲突。本文首先在理论上,对中国政府应对非营利组织兴起的最新策略进行分析,总结这种将政府管理与公民参与相结合的混合型社会创新;并从该分析框架出发,对发生在上海的由市政府发起的公益创投项目进行实证分析。本文认为政府管理下的社会创新导致了双重结果:由于政府管制的束缚和公民投入的缺乏,一个完全基于公民赋权的过程难以有效实现;而同时,政府管理下的社会创新仍然为新的社会思想、策略和组织的成长提供了机会和资源。中国政府在推进社会创新上获得了一些成功,但是在处理政府与非营利组织关系上仍需要突破现有制度所造成的多种困境。

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