Urban commons and the third sector
Urban commons have been facing a decline in many cities, with their degradation being considered a social, environmental and economic loss. The practice of commoning, the collective use and management of the commons, is positioned as a response to such situations, bringing both individual and collective benefits. Under the study of urban commons, the interest in voluntary initiatives of citizens collaborating to enact positive social change at local, national, and global scales is on the rise. The area of research investigates how urban commons and commoning, civic associations and NGO governance in Asia may contribute to the attainment of a more sustainable and healthy society.
- Urban commons and commoning in Asia (Professor Wai-Fung LAM* and Dr. Jessica WILLIAMS)
While many of the understandings and scholarly insights into commoning were developed in the West, there is increasing interest in the Asian context. In particular, this research explores how the different historical, cultural and governance context found in Asia influences urban and peri-urban commoning initiatives to enrich and supplement understanding. To this end, this research is drawing on a range of case studies and experiences to build understandings of commoning in the Hong Kong context and the wider region. More specifically, investigation is being conducted into breaking down to better understand the enabling conditions for commoning as well as their design principles and attributes.
- Civic associations (Ms. Joyce CHOW, Professor Wai-Fung LAM, Dr. Winnie LAW and Dr. Emily PAN*)
Civic associations represent a prominent form of citizen-driven collaborative and voluntary initiatives, featuring voluntary participation, self-governance and addressing community and public concerns. Prior research on civic associations has demonstrated their significant role in civil society and their importance in shaping the communities they serve. Despite their importance and distinctive organizational characteristics, we know little about the emergence and development paths of civic associational activities and why some civic associations perform better than others. In this stream of study, we intend to explore these puzzles by applying different theoretical perspectives to the case of ethnic minority civic associational activities in Hong Kong.
- NGO governance (Dr. Elaine CHAN* and Professor Wai-Fung LAM)
NGOs are accountable to their stakeholders, however manifold they are. Upwardly, there are funders, supporters, and regulators; downwardly, members, beneficiaries, and clients; externally, partners, media, society as a whole, and organizations in a similar field; and internally, staff, volunteers, and meeting missions. Thus, NGO management and development is about seizing opportunities, sensing snags, and balancing interests. In addition, although the NGO board does not manage the organization, it governs and provides steering and stewardship. Among its many functions is to ensure and enable accountability, including compliance with policies and regulations. Our research in this area examines the health of NGO governance and investigates the relationship between the government and the third sector and how NGOs embrace the change and meet the challenges.