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postgraduate thesis: Learning together : exploring organizational learning in the Chinese nonprofit sector

TitleLearning together : exploring organizational learning in the Chinese nonprofit sector
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2018
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Xiang, X. [向勛宇]. (2018). Learning together : exploring organizational learning in the Chinese nonprofit sector. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractAbstract of thesis entitled “Learning Together: Exploring organizational learning in the Chinese nonprofit sector” Submitted by Xunyu Xiang for the degree of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The University of Hong Kong in June 2018 Background: NPOs have grown dramatically in the past few years. NPOs provide various social services and play a vital role in China’s social development. As an emerging sector, Chinese NPOs are facing critical challenges, including low organizational capacity and performance. This issue impedes NPOs’ sustainability. Organizational learning, a well-established research field, has been investigated in the business sector for decades. The empirical results indicate that organizational learning has strong potential to improve organizational capacity and performance. However, limited studies have been conducted on organizational learning and NPOs. This thesis presents a series of studies for exploring learning among NPOs to address the literature gap. The studies draw on absorptive capacity (AC) theory to inform and guide the research. Method: This study was conducted in a large city in South China. A sequential mixed method was used to collect data. The quantitative data were collected using snowball sampling. In the distributed cross-sectional network survey, NPOs were asked to list their learning partners. Eighty NPOs were identified in the target informal nonprofit learning network. Most of the NPOs (67.5%) provide social services, whereas the rest (32.5%) focuses on other social issues, such as environmental. On the basis of their survey responses, 20 NPOs were purposively selected to participate in a follow-up in-depth interview. Social network and thematic analysis methods were used to explore the learning mechanism among NPOs. Results: The empirical findings reveal that the formation of an informal nonprofit learning network is determined by several endogenous and actor attribute-based factors, such as organizational size, service diversity, connection with NSO, and government NPOs. The results of this study are different from those of previous discussion on the formation of nonprofit networks. After the network is formed, NPOs utilize various strategies to absorb new knowledge from different NPOs. Following the logic of AC, this study has identified a general learning pattern among Chinese NPOs. This study also examines the positive influence of network characteristics and organizational culture on organizational-level AC. Conclusion: This exploratory study uses three important dimensions (preparation, process, and outcome) to depict the learning mechanism among NPOs. This study contends that learning emerges at the network level as an alternative to NPOs in better absorbing knowledge and improving their organizational capacity and performance at the same time. NPOs are encouraged to consider the value of organizational learning seriously. This study advances the literature on organizational learning and AC. Lessons learned from this study also contribute to NPOs’ further practice Word Count: 408 Keywords: organizational learning, absorptive capacity, nonprofit organizations, informal nonprofit network, organizational capacity, organizational performance
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectOrganizational learning
Nonprofit organizations - China
Dept/ProgramSocial Work and Social Administration
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/277094

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorJordan, LP-
dc.contributor.advisorLum, TYS-
dc.contributor.authorXiang, Xunyu-
dc.contributor.author向勛宇-
dc.date.accessioned2019-09-19T02:44:30Z-
dc.date.available2019-09-19T02:44:30Z-
dc.date.issued2018-
dc.identifier.citationXiang, X. [向勛宇]. (2018). Learning together : exploring organizational learning in the Chinese nonprofit sector. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/277094-
dc.description.abstractAbstract of thesis entitled “Learning Together: Exploring organizational learning in the Chinese nonprofit sector” Submitted by Xunyu Xiang for the degree of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The University of Hong Kong in June 2018 Background: NPOs have grown dramatically in the past few years. NPOs provide various social services and play a vital role in China’s social development. As an emerging sector, Chinese NPOs are facing critical challenges, including low organizational capacity and performance. This issue impedes NPOs’ sustainability. Organizational learning, a well-established research field, has been investigated in the business sector for decades. The empirical results indicate that organizational learning has strong potential to improve organizational capacity and performance. However, limited studies have been conducted on organizational learning and NPOs. This thesis presents a series of studies for exploring learning among NPOs to address the literature gap. The studies draw on absorptive capacity (AC) theory to inform and guide the research. Method: This study was conducted in a large city in South China. A sequential mixed method was used to collect data. The quantitative data were collected using snowball sampling. In the distributed cross-sectional network survey, NPOs were asked to list their learning partners. Eighty NPOs were identified in the target informal nonprofit learning network. Most of the NPOs (67.5%) provide social services, whereas the rest (32.5%) focuses on other social issues, such as environmental. On the basis of their survey responses, 20 NPOs were purposively selected to participate in a follow-up in-depth interview. Social network and thematic analysis methods were used to explore the learning mechanism among NPOs. Results: The empirical findings reveal that the formation of an informal nonprofit learning network is determined by several endogenous and actor attribute-based factors, such as organizational size, service diversity, connection with NSO, and government NPOs. The results of this study are different from those of previous discussion on the formation of nonprofit networks. After the network is formed, NPOs utilize various strategies to absorb new knowledge from different NPOs. Following the logic of AC, this study has identified a general learning pattern among Chinese NPOs. This study also examines the positive influence of network characteristics and organizational culture on organizational-level AC. Conclusion: This exploratory study uses three important dimensions (preparation, process, and outcome) to depict the learning mechanism among NPOs. This study contends that learning emerges at the network level as an alternative to NPOs in better absorbing knowledge and improving their organizational capacity and performance at the same time. NPOs are encouraged to consider the value of organizational learning seriously. This study advances the literature on organizational learning and AC. Lessons learned from this study also contribute to NPOs’ further practice Word Count: 408 Keywords: organizational learning, absorptive capacity, nonprofit organizations, informal nonprofit network, organizational capacity, organizational performance -
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshOrganizational learning-
dc.subject.lcshNonprofit organizations - China-
dc.titleLearning together : exploring organizational learning in the Chinese nonprofit sector-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineSocial Work and Social Administration-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2018-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044058181603414-

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