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My name is Ji MA (马季; first name pronounces “G”), Assistant Professor in Philanthropic and Nonprofit Studies at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

I focus on philanthropy, civil society, and the nonprofit sector from three perspectives:

Why civil society sectors exist in authoritarian countries and how they interact with the states. Before entering academia, I cofounded a grassroots nongovernmental organization (NGO) focused on improving the quality of education in rural China. While serving as its inaugural executive director, I was puzzled and curious about the appropriate roles of NGOs in an authoritarian country and how the state and NGOs should interact. This curiosity motivated my doctoral training and dissertation: why do civil society sectors exist in authoritarian countries, and how do they interact with states? This line of research has appeared in Scientific Data, Social Networks, Nonprofit Management & Leadership, and Chinese Public Administration Review.

How to facilitate intellectual growth in nonprofit and philanthropic studies. Developing a cohesive and substantial body of knowledge is at the core of all academic disciplines. My second research area focuses on how to understand and facilitate intellectual growth and knowledge production. I became interested in this research line while I was in my doctoral program, where we would often ask questions such as “Is there an emerging research field of nonprofit and philanthropy?” and “Will we form a new discipline or stay as a research field?” These types of questions are typical and critical to all emerging and interdisciplinary research areas. This line of research has appeared in Voluntas.

Advancing computational social science methods. Social scientists are well trained in conventional qualitative and quantitative methods, but an emerging set of methods commonly known as “computational social science” is novel and exciting to researchers in all social science disciplines. Although computational social science has been coined for a while, many scholars still treat it as a buzzword instead of a new methodological paradigm. Given its growing importance in evidence-based policymaking, my most recent research line advances computational social science methods and has appeared in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly and Voluntas.

Recent papers are listed here. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in any of these items.

Office: SRH3.324, +1-512-232-4240; Email:


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