Universities as Intermediary Organizations: Catalyzing the Construction of an Age-Friendly City in Hong Kong

Cheryl Hiu Kwan Chui*, Shiyu Lu, On Fung Chan, Johnson Chun Sing Cheung, Yingqi Guo, Yuqi Liu, Terry Y S Lum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Objectives: The construction of an Age-Friendly City (AFC) requires active contribution from relevant interest groups including older adults, nonprofit organizations, and policy-makers. However, given that relevant interest groups may have limited resources, knowledge, and skills, as well as unique contextual factors, they often require help from intermediary organizations - actors that aim to build interest groups' capabilities. Our objectives were to examine the functions of universities, as an example of intermediary organizations, in facilitating the construction of an AFC, and identify critical factors that enable intermediary organizations to perform their functions.

Research Design and Methods: We conducted three focus groups and one individual interview with multiple interest groups including older adults and social workers from nonprofit organizations and local government involved in a 6-year citywide AFC project in Hong Kong. Participants were asked to share their views on the role of universities in relation to their own experiences and roles in the project. Data generated from the interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: Four themes pertinent to the functions of universities in facilitating development were identified: facilitating cross-sector collaborations, knowledge diffusion, interest-group building, and mediating divergent interests. We also found that neutrality and reputability are key characteristics for intermediary organizations to wield sufficient legitimacy to perform their functions efficiently.

Discussion and Implications: Findings underscore the important yet overlooked role of intermediary organizations in bridging and mediating different interest groups to facilitate AFC development. We advance gerontological scholarship by providing insights into the theoretical mechanisms and practice implications for intermediary organizations in fostering an AFC.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberigad016
Number of pages11
JournalInnovation in Aging
Issue number3
Early online date21 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • Civic engagement
  • Conceptual development
  • Organizational and institutional issues
  • Policy
  • Social networks


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