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DEV Research Seminar - Friday 11th October

Hailing Zhao is a current PhD researcher at the School of International Development, UEA. She will be presenting her findings from her yearlong Ethnographic research in China.


The Making of a ‘Wolf-Like’ Worker in China: An Ethnographic Study of a Chinese Foundation

Friday 11th October | ARTS 2.03 | 12-1pm | Hailing Zhao

This presentation is part of my yearlong ethnographic work of Chinese NGOs conducted in 2016-17, which looks at the changing landscape of Chinese NGO sector in the past decade.  As a farewell of the socialist era, the emerging domestic donors, mostly private entrepreneurs in China, put an emphasis on the spirit of aggressiveness and competitiveness in NGO workers’ daily work and life, a character that has been seen as a symbol China’s economic reform in the past three decades. This character has been called as ‘wolf spirit’ among many Chinese private enterprises today. In this study, I argue that the wolf spirit or the aggressiveness, shared by many NGO workers in an entrepreneur-founded Chinese foundation, has aimed to create a new type of organization in China’s NGO sector: by imagining themselves as a representative of the rising private entrepreneurs in China, they are ambitious to compete with the government-organized NGOs as a “reformer” or “social innovator”. This new type of organization with ‘wolf-spirit’, though some of their workers may have working experiences with various international donors, have been no longer a mere ‘follower’ of the international development agencies but a ‘reflector’ and ‘competitor’ of the Western donors.