Organized Panel Session
One major process that leads to the changes in organizational behaviors of religious groups in a given society is to mimic the organizational traits of overseas religious forces that pose rivalry and challenge to them. In this paper, I will investigate the variegated patterns of isomorphic processes of Chinese Buddhist organizations in the three modern Chinese societies during the Republican period (1912–1949), martial law Taiwan (1949–1987), and the post-Mao period (1978–2018). It attempts to answer two questions: (1) Why did Chinese Buddhists, when facing the challenge from Christianity, display a strong tendency to emulate the organizational traits of their rivals during the Republican and martial law periods? and (2) Why did the presence of a rapid growing Christian movement and the more vigorous forms of Chinese Buddhism from overseas fail to trigger organizational isomorphism among Chinese Buddhist organizations during the post-Mao period? I argue that for an organization to launch competitive isomorphism, it has to meet two prerequisites. First, it has to perceive the rivalry, or feel the competitive pressures acutely. Second, it has to have very limited resources or means to neutralize the challenge. In the analysis, I further explore the vital and pervasive role of the state in shaping the organization’s perception of and reactions to religious competition.