Institutional Isomorphism and Chinese Private Corporate Philanthropy: State Coercion, Corruption, and Other Institutional Effects

Zongshi Chen, Douglas B. Fuller*, Lu Zheng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The corporate philanthropy literature generally assumes corporate philanthropy is either voluntary or strategic. Institutional theory has downplayed coercion as an isomorphic mechanism. Using the case of China, this paper contributes to both literatures by demonstrating that state coercion can play a large role in corporate philanthropy. A further contribution is demonstrating that strategic corporate philanthropy in a setting with weak formal market institutions, such as China, can take the form of corruption disguised as corporate philanthropy. This paper also finds some evidence for mimetic isomorphism via peer imitation at the provincial level and normative isomorphism via industrial associations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAsian Business and Management
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)83-111
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Corporate philanthropy
  • Institutional isomorphism
  • Private firms
  • Government coercion
  • China
  • Corruption

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