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Online Accountability Disclosure: Social Media Use by Environmental Grassroots Organizations in China

DOI: 10.15340/978-625-00-9894-3_17

Published: 2021 | Pages: 345 - 363

Ming Xie
Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, West Texas A&M University, PO Box 60807, Canyon, TX 79016, USA

Chin-Chung Chao
School of Communication, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68182, USA

This chapter focuses on the social media use by environmental grassroots organizations in China, to discuss the role of social media in accountability building in the nonprofit sector. Through two months of online observation of three environmental grassroots organizations’ social media activities, this research finds that these organizations have used social media to disclose organizations’ information such as financial performance and events. They also have used social media innovatively to engage with various stakeholders and promote the organizations’ visibility and advocacy work. Their online accountability building has focused on both information sharing and stakeholder engagement. Although some of the organizations face challenges such as lack of funding and professional staff, social media allowed them to build communities with donors and volunteers as well as engage with them through meaningful activities. Within the authoritarian context of China, when channels of political participation and advocacy are limited, social media have played a supplementary role for these organizations to promote environmental protection and justice.

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Ming Xie is an Assistant Professor of public administration and emergency management administration at West Texas A&M University. Ming earned her Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha where her dissertation examined the social construction of accountability by Chinese environmental nonprofit organizations. She earned d another Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, China. She is particularly interested in nonprofit organization management and communication, social media, emergency management and social vulnerability, nonprofit accountability, and intercultural communication. Dr. Xie has published peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in the field of public administration, emergency management, and intercultural communication. in Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, and China Media Research.


Chin-Chung Chao is Professor of Communication at University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her primary research interests span conflict management, leadership, intercultural communication, organizational communication, and media communication. She served as President of Association for Chinese Communication Studies, Chair of the National Communication Association Asian/Pacific American Communication Studies Division, and Guest Editor for Chinese Media Research and Negotiation and Conflict Management Research. In addition, she has served on editorial boards of Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, and Negotiation and Conflict Management Research. She has published two books, ten book chapters, and twenty peer-reviewed articles in, among others, Journal of Information, Law & Technology, Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, Chinese Journal of Communication, Journal of Knowledge-Based Innovation in China, Chinese Management Studies, Journal of Politics and Law, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Journal of Science and Technology Policy in China, and International Journal of Communication


Cite this chapter as:

Xie, M., Chao, C. (2021). Online Accountability Disclosure: Social Media Use by Environmental Grassroots Organizations in China In: Bakan U. & Lengel M. L. (eds) Social Media Archaeology from Theory to Practice (pp. 345-363). MacroWorld Pub.

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