Local worker discretion within non-governmental organisations: social integration, social control, or innovation?

Lucy P. Jordan, Cheryl Chui, Qiaobing Wu, Wei Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the dynamics of frontline organisational practice and examines how non-governmental organisations (NGOs) act as an intermediary between people and the state. It explores how workers in NGOs in the Pearl River Delta are responding to the needs of local migrant populations including rural-to-urban migrants and foreigners within mainland China, cross-border ‘new arrival’ Chinese and ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. We examine how government policy imperatives that relate to (im)migrants within the wider region are operationalised in strategic and direct practice, drawing on the theory of street-level bureaucracy to guide the analysis of primary data collected in two cities (Hong Kong and Guangzhou) during 2014. Key findings provide evidence of discretionary agency in both locations although the broader scope for an agency is evident in Hong Kong than Guangzhou. Implications for future practice are discussed within the context of increasingly restrictive political and social environment within the region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-256
Number of pages19
JournalChina Journal of Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • migrants
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • street-level bureaucrats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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