Capability Construction of Chinese NGO in Crisis Management

LI Yanping[a],*

[a] Professor, College of Humanities and Law, Shandong University of Science and Technology, China.

*Corresponding author.

Supported by the Chinese Ministry of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences Youth Fund (10YJC840041).

Received 3 August 2012; accepted 14 October 2012


In crisis management, as the main NGO of social governance framework, because of their own with some of the features, such as autonomy, private, voluntary, etc., played an important role in China to prevent and respond to public crisis. From the point of view of capacity building, better play the role of NGO in the future public crisis management, from the NGO’s credibility, professional competence, management capacity and develop the ability to enhance its overall strength.

Key words: NGO; crisis management; professional competence; development capacity

LI Yanping (2012). Capability Construction of Chinese NGO in Crisis Management. Canadian Social Science, 8(5), 85-88. Available from: http://www.cscanada.net/index.php/css/article/view/j.css.1923669720120805.ZT0827
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/j.css.1923669720120805.ZT0827.


In crisis management, in order to achieve the orderly cooperation of NGO and government, we must have the relevant basic ability. China is in a period of high incidence of sudden social crises, facing with various natural disasters, accidents, disasters, social security events. As providers of public services, it is natural that the Government plays a leading role in it, but the government also has its own limits. For example, specific public crisis requires specific technical expertise to deal with, but the Government’s strict hierarchical system may hinder the dissemination of public information. Thus, as the main social governance framework, NGO can play an important role in the public crisis for its own characteristics, such as autonomy, private, voluntary and other preparedness.

However, despite that the Chinese NGO participation in public crisis management in recent years has been greatly developed, but their participation in the current situation is far more enough no matter in breadth, depth and continuity of participation. One of the reasons for these deficiencies is that the NGO’s lack of ability.

Firstly, non-governmental organization’s social credibility is limited. NGO in China is just in its infancy, and because the history is very short, a variety of rules and norms are not perfect.  The consciousness of self-regulation of a small number of NGO is not strong and some even engage in violations or illegal activities, which makes public doubt about the NGO. In addition, the philosophy and purpose of the NGO is not known and accepted by public. This suspicion and mistrust can easily lead to the lack of NGO social credibility.

Second, the development ability of NGO is deficient. A considerable number of NGO is established and developed through access to top-down resources. Not only its major resources such as funding comes from the party and government organs, but also the concept of organization, functions, way of activities and the management system are heavily dependent on government, and even play its role as a subsidiary body of the government. Therefore, the development capacity is limited.

Moreover, NGO lacks professional competence. Because of lacking of funds and personnel, coupled with these organizations having concentrated governmental-run color and the lack of appropriate expertise and advantages NGO can only engage in some simple work, such as publicity education. As a result, the NGO has more volunteer desires but the profession competence is deficient.

Finally, the marketing capabilities should be to be improved. The NGO are voluntary and non-governmental, and determined , survival and development of the NGO strongly dependent on its marketing capabilities, lack of marketing is the holding the development of China's NGO, in particular, one of the important reason for government-run NGO development is limited.

From the point of view of capacity building, NGO’s overall strength must be enhanced in terms of the credibility of the NGO, professional competence, management ability, and development capability in order to play the role of NGO in the future public crisis management.

1. Public Credibility: credit basis for NGO involved in Social Crisis Management

The legitimacy of the NGO is established. The reason why NGO is difficult to get public approval and strong support is that in a large degree the public question about its “legitimacy” and worry about the “operating costs”. Our present laws and regulations on NGO are not perfect, which lacks not only a clear and reasonable position, but also a legal system for NGO which leads to the lack of legalization for its public reason. This results in many “deviant” behaviors of NGO, intentionally or unintentionally, in their usual activities which has damaged the interests of the government and society. Therefore, the Government must promote the forming of the NGO laws and regulations and through the introduction of specific laws and regulations for the NGO, the social credibility of NGO will gain a legal basis and the more compelling.

NGO internal and external constraints should be established. The public credibility relies on a combination of self-discipline and discipline. On the one hand the organization is to establish clear and specific organizational beliefs and mission and to set in the Articles of Association of accurate self-regulatory standards, and timely information disclosure. Besides, we can establish a set of explanation mechanism for constraints of organizational behavior, ethical norms, self-evaluation. One of the most important basis which guarantees the credibility is the specification of the financial management and transparency. The finance of NGO should be established with the appropriate audit mechanisms. For example, the annual financial report should supply a reasonable explanation to the specific donor. And the agency’s annual report and financial report should be seen to all the people to ensure the reasonableness of the usage of funds.

On the other hand, guarantee should be obtained through the improvement of external oversight to provide protection. This involves the assessment and integrity of a system which is introduced by the Government to form an indirect management mechanism, to strengthen financial management and supervision of the NGO. According to the different properties for different non-governmental organizations, establish a more scientific, rational and independent financial and auditing systems. At the same time, improve the social supervision, through the media and even establish an independent third party to supervise in order to protect the credibility of the implementation of a full range to realize the social multifaceted cooperation with each other, and highlight the diverse public in the true sense of the rational values.

2. Professional competence: the competence basis of NGO’s participation in the social crisis management

NGO’s public service must not only stay at the conceptual level. Having the appropriate professional competence is the most important, which can enable the Government to have confidence in NGO and be assured to the NGO to handle public affairs.

NGO is the most important member in public crisis because it has strong predictability and keen insight in the early warning system. At the same time, NGO can provide a more scientific and effective public role in response to a public crisis with its logic and perspective different from administrative department which is subject to the established government "thinking used to constraint and interference, so NGO is often able to enhance the breadth and depth of the Government's handling of public affairs in the horizontal and vertical, and bring new thinking to the complex and non-routine social and public governance and transit. While there is only a few professional NGO in real life however with a few professional volunteers due to human resources management system. Most professional NGO is made of the members retired from government so that it can not play its role can not afford to work independently once the original professional NGO is needed to be involved in crisis. It is particularly important for NGO to establish its own human resources system and the system of rules, to absorb advanced concepts and operational capabilities of leaders and professionals. On crisis management under the present circumstances, the status of NGO is low in our society, its income is not high and unstable, NGO talents are few. The solution is to attract high-quality volunteers, on the other hand, to strengthen the training of its members. The members of NGO need to have professional training for emergency assistance to master the relevant knowledge, skills and methods to improve its crisis response capability, which is the common practice of the international community to strengthen the NGO emergency response capacity building. And NGO needs to strengthen the internal organization and management of construction to improve their professional level. Specialized NGO should have a clear purpose of serving a clear work plan for the scientific leadership system, professional volunteers and scholars, rational decision-making system, the specification of the funding and management model, strong oversight institutions. China’s NGO need gradually establish a trinity management system of decision-making bodies, implementing agencies, oversight bodies.

3. Management Capacity: Operations Base of NGO Participation in Crisis Management

Since most NGO was funded by all levels of government or government-backed agencies, managers and staff are mainly from the government officials or by proxy, most of them are not good at marketing to expand their influence to get more money unconsciously, or to achieve the organization’s mission.
NGO should make the full use of internal and external resources to develop effective marketing strategies, to respond flexibly to the needs of the social changes in the environment and the public in order to achieve NGO’s mission and values.

First of all, NGO need to set up a dedicated marketing department. With the development of the NGO marketing requirements, the establishment of the appropriate departments and personnel engaged in marketing has become an important management requirement. Marketing must have performed a principal to set up a marketing department which helps to find the focus of organizational development. The methods are the employment staff with marketing background, to accept NGO marketing management training courses, to train staff with marketing potential and to hire marketing experts in other organizations or institutions.

Secondly, the analysis of the marketing environment of the NGO helps to develop a marketing strategy. NGO's marketing process will be the impact and constraints of the surrounding environment, which is compatible and coordinated with the changes in the environment, so organizations can carry out marketing activities successfully and achieve the goals expected. The marketing environment factors are generally divided into two aspects: (1) macro-environmental factors, mainly refers to the social constraints of a wide range of forces, including political, economic, social and technical factors. (2) micro-environmental factors, including the organization's competitive environment factors and the organization itself. The purpose of the marketing environment analysis is to collect all necessary data to clear organization strengths and weaknesses, to seek for the opportunities and threats in the surrounding environment, to figure out how organizations adapt to the present and future environment, and to make the foundation for the formulation of marketing strategy.

The third is the importance of internal marketing to enhance employee performance. Internal marketing is a marketing and management strategies to promote positive and co-ordinate approach within the organization staff for better customer service. It will be the human resources management to make organization's employees as internal customers from the perspective of marketing management. Internal marketing helps to unity together to motivate employees, so that employees have the awareness of customer-oriented. On the other hand, it is conducive to the develop coordination across sectors. Making employees aware of the value formation process is composed of several related activities which contribute to the organization's products or services. The whole process of marketing the atmosphere is easy to form within the organization.

Finally, the combination of public relations and marketing management functions should be strengthened. Traditional public relations and duties to maintain and strengthen the organization's public image, to expand its influence all kinds of public support, but now its role has been extended to the public advocate ---- initiatives and guide the public concern and changing social and institutional existence and so on. Therefore, the NGO public relations can achieve the following objectives: the mission of the organization to be recognized; to establish channels of communication with the organization's clients; to create and maintain a favorable climate to raise funds; the development of public policy conducive to the organization's mission and maintenance to support it. Therefore, the NGO should be long-term planning for public relations to strengthen the combination of public relations and marketing management to complete the organization's goals and tasks.

4. The development capacity: The changing basis that NGO involves in social crisis management

With the rapid development of modern society, new issues are emerging. How to adapt to these changes is a common problem faced with the NGO and the government.  NGO is more adaptable compared with the government, and have a stronger ability to change, thus NGO has become a powerful weapon of the government to deal with new things and new problems.

We can take the following measures to enhance NGO development by learning from the successful experiences of countries in the world NGO development.

Firstly, regulations should be established to promote the healthy development of NGO, without inhibiting their creative ability and meanwhile the government should relax the control on NGO registration, and strengthen the management of the operation of the service agencies during the operation and make efficient supervision on standardization and quality to make these institutions meet the people’s needs. Effective quality control system, legal supervision and social supervision can create a standardized environment for social development to promote NGO development of a healthy direction for NGO and do make them not take advantage of drilling laws and regulations, which is helpful for NGO to regulate their own behavior.

Secondly, the internal management mechanism of the NGO should be improved. In the first place, the NGO senior management appointments for the development of the organization are essential. At present, many foreign NGO will employ the former officials of the government as their senior management leader while the majority of our non-profit institutions senior management personnel are experts with higher academic status. As to what type of leader should be chosen, it depends on the specific circumstances. Moreover, due to the volunteer characteristics of the NGO, GO should establish internal incentive system, in order to prevent the formation of the corruption and waste. At the same time, the organization's staff should receive specialized training to improve their quality andto improve the efficiency and the quality of service and activities of the organization. Then, the NGO should avoid the bureaucracy of government within the organization and adhere to the democratic style of work, exercise democratic management and democratic supervision and establish a transparent system of financial management. The NGO should provide their internal financial information, job performance data regularly and timely to the funds of donor agencies or individuals. NGO in the developing process, the NGO should perfect the management mechanism and really play the role of social services, so as not to cause behavioral distortions due to management problems as well as harmful to society.

Thirdly, NGO should expand the funding sources, and broad participation for the people. To maintain normal operation, the completion of its social mission, NGO must think of ways to get funding for survival and development from the various aspects of organizational, among which make the Alliance with for-profit organizations is a kind of access to finance, and to mitigate the burden on governments. Now there are many typical examples that many NGO and for-profit coalition of organizations achieve a win-win transaction. For example, the cooperation between engineering and Nongfushanquan Group is almost known by all the people. The group will donate 1 cent when one bottle of Nongfushangquan was sold. In addition, the NGO should continue to expand their own propaganda, and to fight for more funding sources. Meanwhile, in the globalization of economic development, China's NGO should also gradually find foreign sources of funding.

Finally, NGO should keep good relationship with the Government. Currently, the relationship between the government and NGO is very complicated. The government develops regulations and makes macro-control and supervision of the NGO; at the same time, government is also benefactor of NGO. Therefore, maintain good relations with government are an important strategy in the development of NGO. Meanwhile, the NGO can not lose its independence, and lose the meaning of existence. Moreover, the NGO should not use their linkages with the Government to get some non-voluntary contributions. They should maintain the care for public welfare and the vulnerable groups and actively cooperate with the government to promote the development of public welfare, to win the trust of the public and gain more support and contributions. In addition, NGO should keep being innovative, not only in terms of production technology hardware innovation, but also to innovate the organizational management to maintain vitality.


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