Responding to environment : the experience of strategic planning of non-governmental organizations in Hong Kong
In recent years, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Hong Kong have been facing tremendous challenges and demands from both the external environment and internal administrative mechanisms. Regarding the external environment, Hong Kong is facing a major political change in 1997 as its sovereignty will be returned to Mainland China. However, it is perceived that there are many differences in both the conceptions and the administrative systems of both Hong Kong and China. In view of the task environment, as opposed to the general environment, the Social Welfare Department is now conducting a `subvention review' exercise. Such an exercise attempts to re-examine the current funding arrangements and the partnership relationship between the government and the NGOs. Service contracts between the funder and the service providers are recommended as the future mode of operation in the subvention policy. In addition, the NGOs will also be required to conform to a list of performance standards which are categorised into four major dimensions, namely, the provision of information, service management, the management of clients and a respect for clients' rights. Not only the rise of managerialism, but public accountability and the empowerment of clients are also perceived as prominent issues affecting the administrators. Based on a research study conducted by the author, this paper will examine the above issues in detail. It also examines the value orientations of the social work administrators in the voluntary sector during their decision-making processes. Various organization theories such as contingency theory, political economy and resources dependency perspective are adopted as the organizing framework for the analysis. Patterns of service development and patterns of management development have been constructed after examining twenty-five voluntary organizations. Four domains of strategic planning and management are covered in the study, including Domain Enlargement mode, Domain Enhancement mode, Domain Restructuring mode and Domain Reduction mode. A questionnaire was also constructed in order to examine the views of the chief executives in terms of their choices of strategies and approaches in responding to environmental changes, with respect to the organizational attributes, including organization size, complexity of service nature, religious background, and level of subvention from government funding.