[Preprint] Funding nonprofits in a networked society: Two modes of crowding mechanism of government support

This paper studies the impact of social relations on the crowding process of government funding–the effect that government funding to nonprofits may crowd out or crowd in private donations. By using a novel panel dataset across 12 years from the People’s Republic of China, this study suggests that, although government funding to a nonprofit may crowd out the private donations to the same organization, private donations are not reduced but redistributed to other nonprofits in the organizational network. Policy and practical implications are discussed.

Keywords: crowd out, crowd in, social relation, government funding, nonprofit organization, networked society

Full-text: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3262798

[Voluntas] A Century of Nonprofit Studies: Scaling the Knowledge of the Field

I started to work on this project since early 2015, and the first paper is finally accepted in Voluntas today, which is my civil calendar birthday. Although our family tradition is to use the Chinese lunar calendar, still a nice gift.

Sara and I started to work on the first draft at Mo’Joe Coffeehouse, which was permanently closed in June this year. Another coffeehouse, Thirsty Scholar, was also closed around the same time. Lots of memories with friends in both places.

There are at least three versions of this paper. The first draft almost entirely relied on a citation analysis software package named CiteSpace. It was a very simple paper but it helped me get familiar with relevant concepts and methodology and cleaned a part of the dataset used in the final analysis. In the second draft, I started to write Python scripts for processing and analyzing data. In early 2017, while I was waiting for my wife, parents, and parents-in-law at Kuala Lumpur airport to start a wonderful journey in Malaysia, I received the rejection from a journal. Then I tried to rewrite the whole paper to analyze the literature published in the last century. I still remember the classroom in which I crawled the first hundreds of records – it was a classroom on the first floor of Teaching Building 2 in Beijing Normal University, where I also spent many nights for preparing my Ph.D. application. I then had a lunch with a good friend who just returned from UPenn about a year ago. She said she felt her heart was in peace, and she was sure about the direction of her career. That was a day in March, Beijing was snowing heavily.

In late June of this year, I submitted the third draft to Voluntas in the office at IQSS, where Prof. Peter Bol treated me so well. We got “minor revision” in early August, and I had a phone call with Sara on the third day after moving to Austin. Life was pretty hectic.

A paper for me has two meanings: the words and numbers for reviewers and readers, and the memories for myself. All things grow, I’m waiting and watching 万物并作,吾以观复.

Abstract

This empirical study examines knowledge production between 1925 and 2015 in nonprofit and philanthropic studies from quantitative and thematic perspectives. Quantitative results suggest that scholars in this field have been actively generating a considerable amount of literature and a solid intellectual base for developing this field towards a new discipline. Thematic analyses suggest that knowledge production in this field is also growing in cohesion – several main themes have been formed and actively advanced since the 1980s, and the study of volunteering can be identified as a unique core theme of this field. The lack of geographic and cultural diversity is a critical challenge for advancing nonprofit studies. New paradigms are needed for developing this research field and mitigating the tension between academia and practice. Methodological and pedagogical implications, limitations, and future studies are discussed.

Keywords: nonprofit and philanthropic studies; network analysis; knowledge production; paradigm shift; science mapping

Fulltext: https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2834121

Datasets in “state power and elite autonomy in a networked civil society”

The paper State power and elite autonomy in a networked civil society: The board interlocking of Chinese non-profits is published at Social Networks (Open Access, you can get the paper free of charge because we’ve paid for the knowledge we produced). Here are the hand-coded datasets in the paper. You are welcome to use as long as you give appropriate attribution.

All the datasets used in this paper are open to use, review, or replicate. Feel free to send me an email if you need more information.

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The research infrastructure of Chinese foundations, a database for Chinese civil society studies @Scientific Data

Ma, J., Wang, Q., Dong, C., & Li, H. (2017). The research infrastructure of Chinese foundations, a database for Chinese civil society studies. Scientific Data, 4, sdata201794. https://doi.org/10.1038/sdata.2017.94

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web crawling and OCR of verification image

I’m working on crawling data from some websites for my research, the most challenging issue is the verification image – the barrier set by websites to prevent programmed crawling. I’ve tried different approaches, but all failed: the success rate is too low to be usable. Looks like such verification mechanism is not as vulnerable as people always assume. However, it is beneficial to write down my lesson, for my own reference and other folks who may want to give a try. Promising solutions for avoiding verification may be the IP pools and delayed requests (courtesy to servers!). Continue reading “web crawling and OCR of verification image”

[Preprint] Thirty Years of Nonprofit Research: Scaling the Knowledge of the Field 1986 – 2015

Ji Ma, Sara Konrath

Abstract:
This empirical study examines knowledge production between 1986 and 2015 in nonprofit and philanthropic studies using science mapping and network analysis. Results suggest that scholars in this field have been actively generating a considerable amount of literature and a solid intellectual base for the continuing development of this field as a new discipline. Knowledge production in this field is also growing in cohesion – several main themes have been formed and actively developed since the mid-1980s. Future advancement of this field faces a critical challenge: the lack of geographic and cultural diversity resulting from the domination of research taking place in the “Anglosphere.” We also emphasize the importance of new paradigms in mitigating the tension between theory and practice – a challenge commonly faced by academic disciplines. Methodological and pedagogical implications, limitations, and future directions are also discussed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: nonprofit and philanthropic studies, network analysis, knowledge production, paradigm shift, science mapping

Full text available at SSRN.

Nonprofit management education: A literature collection

I was on a project reviewing the literature on nonprofit management education. The outcome of this project is an unpublished English manual and an article in a peer-reviewed Chinese journal (The China Nonprofit Review). The following items are the references in the literature pool. This should be helpful if you are developing a course (or a series of courses) of nonprofit management.

Update 12/2018: Another paper which reviews the scholarship on nonprofit studies in the last century was recently published and selected as the “Editor’s Choice Free Article”: A Century of Nonprofit Studies: Scaling the Knowledge of the Field (Ma, J. & Konrath, S. Voluntas (2018) 29: 1139. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-00057-5)

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[Preprint] State power and elite autonomy: The board interlock network of Chinese non-profits

Ji Ma, Simon DeDeo

In response to failures of central planning, the Chinese government has experimented not only with free-market trade zones, but with allowing non-profit foundations to operate in a decentralized fashion. A network study shows how these foundations have connected together by sharing board members, in a structural parallel to what is seen in corporations in the United States. This board interlock leads to the emergence of an elite group with privileged network positions. While the presence of government officials on non-profit boards is widespread, state officials are much less common in a subgroup of foundations that control just over half of all revenue in the network. This subgroup, associated with business elites, not only enjoys higher levels of within-elite links, but even preferentially excludes government officials from the nodes with higher degree. The emergence of this structurally autonomous sphere is associated with major political and social events in the state-society relationship.

For full text, refer to http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.08103

Parallel computing using IPython: Important notes for naive scholars without CS background

Analysis of network and complex system requires too much computing resources. Although the learning curve is deep, the power of parallel computing must be utilized, otherwise, more time will be spent on waiting. Moreover, for exploratory academic research, we will not know what’s the next step until we finish the current analysis. So the research life-cycle becomes hypothesis -> operationalization -> LONG TIME coding and debugging -> LONG TIME waiting for result -> new hypothesis.

With IPython Notebook, parallel computing can be easily operated; however, like what I’ve said: We cannot understand the easiest programming skills unless we are able to operate them. I’ll not come to this post if I do not have to wait for a week only for one result. Playing parallel computing with IPython is easy, but for real jobs, it’s not. Scholars in social science area may be less skilled in programming – we are not trained to be. I’ve made great efforts and finally got some progress which may be laughed by CS guys.

While using IPython Notebook (now named Jupyter Notebook) for parallel computing, Jupyter will start several remote engines beside the local one we are using. These remote engines are blank which means that the variables and functions defined and modules imported on the local engine do not work on the remote ones. Specifically, the puzzle for me was (yes, was!): How to operate the variables, functions, and modules on the remote engines.

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