• experts;
  • project performance;
  • social governance;
  • social organizations;
  • working principles


Previous studies have found no relationship between scholar participation and public project performance. Building on the work of Lindblom (1977; 1990), I propose a model depicting scholars' roles in social organizations and governance. A study of thirty-two cases of large public works projects in China and seventeen projects in thirteen other countries shows a moderately positive relationship. The study further shows the greatest influence on project success occurs when participating scholars serve as information brokers and entrepreneurial activity organizers. Successful scholar participation occurred through five working principles: (1) there is dispersed and specialized knowledge production; (2) there is dispersed and asymmetric knowledge possession; (3) knowledge-driven volitions and consensus are criteria for knowledge; (4) the satisfaction of diverse and heterogeneous individual needs is realized through knowledge-driven institutional arrangements; and (5) there are multiple methods of knowledge application.[1] In general, scholar participation seems to be more effective in projects in which there is low political intervention, and in village and county projects. The results of the study provide a theoretical and empirical foundation for further research on scholar participation in social organizations.