The Johns Hopkins International Fellows in Philanthropy Program is a highly-selective program that welcomes one or two researchers from outside the U.S. to spend one or more semesters at our Center to conduct independent research on an aspect of the U.S. nonprofit, philanthropic, and voluntary sector. Since its inception in 1988, this program has included over 150 Fellows from more than 50 countries. We are pleased to introduce you to the newest member of our Fellows family, Dr. Yuanfeng Zhang. Dr. Zhang is a Professor at the School of Public Administration at Zhongnan University of Economics & Law, Wuhan, China. She received her doctorate from Wuhan University in 2003.
Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on nonprofit organizations and public-private-partnerships in public services. She is the author of several books, the most recent being: Study on Peter F. Ducker’s Management Thought (2007) and Social Entrepreneurship and NPO Management (2011). Papers and reports include: Public-Private Partnership: New Governance Paradigm of the City of Pittsburgh (2011); Report on Building the New Rural Community in Hubei Province China (2010). Dr. Zhang joined the Fellows Program for the Fall 2013 semester to research the application of the Tools of Government in the operation of U.S. nonprofits. Below, we asked her a few questions about her research and background.
What is your background?
Yuanfeng Zhang (YZ): I am a professor of the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law at Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. I have done research on nonprofit organization management and the housing accumulative fund management in China during the past 5 years. My recent research focuses on the partnership between government and social service nonprofit organizations. Personally, I enjoy reading, listening to music, watching movies, and playing badminton.
Why did you decide to apply to the Fellows Program?
YZ: I am very interested in the nonprofit sector in America because I believe its experience will be helpful in building a strong civil society in China. I wanted to visit American NPOs and meet the people work them, and to join the academic community in this field. I felt I would get the resources and support I needed, and the opportunity to share my research by joining the International Fellows in Philanthropy Program.
What research did you pursue during your Fellowship?
YZ: My research during my fellowship focused on the government-NPO partnership in the field of social services in the U.S. from the perspective of the use of the tools of government. The method was case-study based. I selected three government tools: grants, contracts and vouchers. I also chose three NPOs operating in the social services field: the Board of Child Care, Maryland Family Network, and D.C. Central Kitchen. The purpose of the research is to analyze the impacts of different government tools on the governance and management of the NPOs.
What is the most valuable thing you learned during your Fellowship?
YZ: The most valuable thing was conducting case studies, including discussing them with [Center Director] Lester Salamon, [International Projects Manager] Megan Haddock, and other colleagues. Contacting and visiting the NPOs, meeting the people engaged in the work, and especially interviewing the CEOs, was particularly rewarding. Overall, it was very challenging and valuable.
Was there anything about the results of your research that surprised you?
YZ: Though I knew that the civil society sector in America is very strong before I came the U.S., I was still surprised how the NPOs system is so deeply and broadly embedded in the life and the spirit of the American people.
What was your favorite part about your time as a Philanthropy Fellow?
YZ: Sharing my research on an emerging government-NPO partnership in China with colleagues and students in a seminar.
Is there anything that you wish you had been able to do here that you were unable to do?
YZ: I wish there had been an opportunity to participate directly in a research project of the Center.
Do you have any advice for future Fellows?
YZ: Never hesitate to take advantage of all the resources and opportunities here.
What’s next for you?
YZ: I am planning to write a book on partnerships between the government and NPOs in social services in America in the next 1-2 years.