Portrait of Yuan Cheng
Associate Professor
243 Humphrey School
Currently reviewing Ph.D. applicants
Leadership and Management Area
Areas of Expertise
Public management; nonprofit and NGO management; civic engagement and public participation; collaborative governance; local government



    Yuan (Daniel) Cheng is an Associate Professor, Chair of the Leadership and Management area, and the Director of Graduate Studies for the Certificate in Nonprofit Management at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Professor Cheng also serves as a McKnight Presidential Fellow at the University of Minnesota.

    Professor Cheng's research is focused on a range of theoretical and managerial questions lying at the nexus of governance, government-nonprofit relationships, co-production, and the distributional and performance implications of cross-sector collaboration. He is particularly interested in how government agencies, nonprofits, and citizens interact in joint public service provision, and the performance implications of alternative service provision mechanisms. In close collaboration with governmental and community organizations, Dr. Cheng is currently embarking on new research directions to better understand the implementation of evidence-based practices in government, the policy impacts of academic research, and how to design more inclusive public sector grant-making programs.

    Professor Cheng has received many awards and recognitions for his work, including the Felice Davidson Perlmutter Best Paper Award of the ARNOVA Theory, Issues, and Boundaries Section, The ARNOVA Emerging Scholars Award, and the E-PARCC Best Collaborative Public Management Teaching Simulation Award. His Public Administration Review article on the changing role of nonprofits in public service provision is listed as the Highly Cited Public Administration Review Article and Web of Science Core Collection Highly Cited Paper. His work has been supported by the Ostrom Research Award, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs Faculty Interactive Research Program, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Research Fund, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

    Professor Cheng received his BS in Environmental Science from Zhejiang University in China where he was also a Morningside Scholar. After one year of service in rural China for two Chinese NGOs, Daniel came abroad and obtained his MA in Philanthropic Studies and Ph.D. in Public Affairs from Indiana University.


    PhD in Public Affairs (Indiana University, 2017)

    MA in Philanthropic Studies (Indiana University, 2013)

    BS in Environmental Science (Zhejiang University, 2010)

    Cheng, Y. & Hung, C. (2023). Exploring the Moderators of the Relationship Between NonprofitSector Size and Its Societal Impact: A Meta-Analysis, VOLUNTAS,

    Cheng, Y., Brudney, J. & Meijs, L. (in press). Exploring the Relationship between Privatization in Public Service Delivery and Coproduction: Evidence from U.S. Local Governments., American Review of Public Administration,

    Cheng, Y., Yang, L. & Deng, S. (2022). Nonprofit Density and Distributional Equity in Public Service Provision: Exploring Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Public Park Access across U.S. Cities, Public Administration Review,

    Cheng, Y. & Choi, J. (2021). Dealing with Endogeneity to Understand the Societal Impact of the Third Sector: Why Should We Care and What Can We Do About It?, Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations,

    Wang, X. & Cheng, Y. (2021). Cross the River by Feeling the Stones: How Did Nonlocal Grassroots Nonprofits Overcome Administrative Barriers to Provide Quick Responses to COVID-19?, Public Administration and Development, 41(2), 91-98

    Cheng, Y. & Wu, Z. (2021). The Contingent Value of Nonprofit Political Connections on Private Donations: Exploring the Moderating Role of Transparency, Administration & Society, 53(1), 36-63

    Cheng, Y., Yu, J., Shen, Y. & Huang, B. (2020). Coproducing Responses to COVID-19 with Community Organizations: Lessons from Zhejiang Province, China, Public Administration Review, 80(5), 866-873

    Cheng, Y., Shi, Y. & Andrew, S. (2020). Exploring the Link between Fiscal Arrangements and the Quality of Public Services: Evidence from Major U.S. Urban Park Systems, Public Performance & Management Review, 43(6), 1445-1470

    Gazley, B., LaFontant, C. & Cheng, Y. (2020). Does Coproduction of Public Services Support Government's Social Equity Goals? The Case of U.S. State Parks, Public Administration Review, 80(3), 349-359

    Cheng, Y. (2020). Bridging the Great Divide: Toward a Comparative Understanding of Coproduction., Journal of Chinese Governance, 5(1), 1-7

    Cheng, Y. (2019). Governing Public-Nonprofit Partnerships: Linking Governance Mechanisms to Collaboration Stages, Public Performance & Management Review, 42(1), 190-212

    Cheng, Y. & Yang, L. (2019). Providing Public Services Without Relying Heavily on Government Funding: How Do Nonprofits Respond to Government Budget Cuts?, American Review of Public Administration, 49(6), 675–688

    Cheng, Y. (2019). Nonprofit Spending and Government Provision of Public Services: Testing Theories of Government–Nonprofit Relationships, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 29(2), 238-254

    Cheng, Y. (2019). Exploring the Role of Nonprofits in Public Service Provision: Moving from Co-production to Co-governance, Public Administration Review, 79(2), 203-214

    Gazley, B., Cheng, Y. & LaFontant, C. (2018). Charitable Support for U.S. National and State Parks Through the Lens of Coproduction and Government Failure Theories, Nonprofit Policy Forum, 9(4), 1-16

    Humphrey School News

    Exploring Government-Nonprofit Relationships Through Spending on Local Parks

    Read more Humphrey School News

    Research Updates

    Read about Cheng's latest research 

    In the Media

    Yukon's Nonprofit Sector is Booming. Is That a Good Thing?
    CBC News, Canada, 03-11-2020

    Read more In the Media

    Teaching Case and Simulations

    Dirtzu, B., and Cheng, Y. (2020). “Advancing Social Equity for the
    Minneapolis Parks Board: How Could Organizations with Divergent Goals Work
    Together?” - Winner of the E-PARCC Best Collaborative Public Management Teaching Simulation Competition.


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