Integrating coproduction theory into voluntary sector theories: approaches and implications for Chinese governance

Beth Gazley, Yuan Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article argues for a fuller and more integrated application of coproduction theory into explanations for social and voluntary sector activity around the globe. Coproduction also has potential value for understanding some aspects of an emerging and somewhat turbulent Chinese nonprofit sector. This article uses a literature review of voluntary sector theories to first offer three reasons for more emphasis on coproduction research to explain social sector behavior: its consumer- and systems-oriented perspective, its emphasis on citizen initiative, and its temporal flexibility. We then demonstrate the value of the coproduction theory for Chinese governance by employing a systematic literature review of Chinese coproduction and related collaboration scholarship. The articles produced, although quite limited in number, offer promising examples of all three of these ways in which the concept of coproduction has been used to date in Chinese contexts. We conclude with some suggestions for future China-oriented research to better integrate coproduction theory into voluntary sector theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-47
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Chinese Governance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Eaint Thiri Thu for her research support and the participants of the International Workshop on Co-production at Zhejiang University for their comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Zhejiang University.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • China
  • Coproduction
  • nonprofits
  • voluntary sector


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