DFG Graduiertenkolleg 1613 Risk and East Asia


Risk Theoretical Perspectives on East Asia
Market Transformations – Social Organizations – Central-Local Interaction – Transnationalization

► GRK 1613 / Evaluation          ► Board / People           ► Publications

The Research Training Group (or Graduiertenkolleg) Risk and East Asia was a DFG-funded Graduate School of the IN-EAST from October 2009 to September 2018. It offered doctoral training and postdoctoral research opportunities in contemporary East Asian Studies, with a focus on economics and social sciences. A key feature was the collaboration between doctoral and postdoctoral fellows and senior researchers in a joint research program about the governance of risks triggered by Asian responses to global economic, political and social change. Our areas of expertise included Chinese Economy, Chinese and Japanese Politics, Japanese and Korean Economy and Japanese Society.

Each year, five new doctoral fellows were selected and underwent rigorous training in disciplinary and regional studies in preparation for completion of their own doctoral research projects within the framework of the Risk and East Asia research program. Financial support enabled all doctoral fellows to conduct their own research in East Asia.

The Research Program drew on a risk theoretical perspective to better understand the nature of contemporary institutional transformations in the East Asian region. Interdisciplinary collaboration was structured through research sub-themes focused on major processes affecting institutional change: Market Transformations, Social Organizations, Central-Local Interaction, and Transnationalization.

The Qualification Program developed methodological and language-based regional studies skills in order to improve the quality of European social science research on East Asia. The September Seminars, conducted at leading East Asian centers of social science, prepared students to conduct their own empirical research in East Asia.

Newest Publications of Research Training Group Scholars

Hanno Jentzsch (2021): Harvesting State Support. Institutional Change and Local Agency in Japanese Agriculture. University of Toronto Press.

Zi Wang (2020): Addressing Migrants’ Well-Being during COVID-19: An analysis of Chinese communities’ heritage language schools in Germany. In: Migration Studies, Dec. 2020.

Armin Müller and Tobias ten Brink (2021): Provider Payment Reform for Chinese Hospitals: Policy Transfer and Internal Diffusion of International Models. Working Papers on East Asian Studies, Duisburg 2021.

Zi Wang (2020): The Discursive Construction of Hierarchy in Japanese Society: An Ethnographic Study of Secondary School Clubs. Contributions to the Sociology of Language (CSL) series, Boston: DeGruyter Mouton.

Alison Lamont (2020): Wretched? Women’s Questions of Love and Labour in Contemporary Urban China. In: Julie Carter and Lorena Arocha (eds): Romantic Relationships in a Time of Cold Intimacies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Alison Lamont (2020): Rebuilding Family after the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake: Finding Normal. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Armin Müller und Thomas Heberer (2020): Entwicklungsstaat China. Politik, Wirtschaft, sozialer Zusammenhalt und Ideologie. Studie im Auftrag der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Berlin, 2020.

Hanno Jentzsch and Alison Lamont (eds.) (2020): Renegotiating Social Risks in The People’s Republic of China and Japan, Special Issue of the Journal of Pacific Affairs, Vol. 93.

Alison Lamont (2020): The Death of a Child: Policy approaches to bereaved parents in the PRC. In: Hanno Jentzsch and Alison Lamont (eds.): Renegotiating Social Risks in the People’s Republic of China and Japan, Special Issue of the Journal of Pacific Affairs.

Hanno Jentzsch (2020): Japan’s changing regional world of welfare. Agricultural reform, hamlet-based collective farming, and the local renegotiation of social risks. In: Hanno Jentzsch and Alison Lamont (eds.): Renegotiating Social Risks in The People’s Republic of China and Japan, Special Issue of the Journal of Pacific Affairs.

Ting Huang (2020): Local Policy Experimentation, Social Learning, and the Development of Rural Pension Provision in China. In: Hanno Jentzsch and Alison Lamont (eds.): Renegotiating Social Risks in The People’s Republic of China and Japan, Special Issue of the Journal of Pacific Affairs.

Armin Müller (2020): Undesired Inclusion? Transnational and internal migrants in mainland China’s social insurance. In: Jentzsch, Hanno and Alison Lamont (eds.) (Forthcoming): Renegotiating Social Risks in The People’s Republic of China and Japan, Special Issue of the Journal of Pacific Affairs.

Complete List of Publications (Scholars in alphabetical order)


After the end of the second funding period the RTG reported about its activities and results and underwent a final external evaluation by peers picked by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The overall evaluation of the RTG was very positive which was also acknowledged by the Senate of the DFG.

From the external reviewers’ reports:

“The research training group stands out by linking area studies, including language studies, with social sciences in an interdisciplinary way. This is a demanding task which the RTG has successfully accomplished.“

“The final report also shows very clearly that the creation of the RTG has given rise to strong networks and cooperation relationships in the international scientific community many of which will continue to operate in the future.”

“The RTG has operated very successfully also in the field of qualification, supervision and partnerships.”

“The careers of the PhD students after leaving the RTG are impressive; many of them embarked on an academic career or took up senior jobs in other organisations.”

“Overall this RTG has made a distinct contribution to the field, and has contributed to institutionalizing language-based research (and doctoral training) on the high-growth economies of East Asia.”

“Das GRK 1613 Risk and East Asia hat zwei erfolgreiche Förderperioden durchlaufen (2009–2018) und dabei die Graduiertenausbildung im Bereich der Ostasienstudien an der Universität Duisburg-Essen, aber auch deutschlandweit maßgeblich weiterentwickelt. Das Programm hat insbesondere durch die systematische Verknüpfung von theoretischen Ansätzen aus den Sozialwissenschaften mit empirischen Fallstudien und Daten aus Ostasien, durch eine systematische Integration internationaler Kooperationen und durch innovative Formate in der Doktorandenausbildung Maßstäbe gesetzt, die für die Ostasienwissenschaften in Deutschland, aber auch – durch die systematische Erschließung von Daten zu Ostasien für institutionenbezogene Fragestellungen – für die Sozialwissenschaften prägend sind.“

(quoted from the final DFG Senate evaluation)

The Research Idea

As social scientists working from an institutionalist perspective, our research examined how large and universal processes of social change are shifting responsibilities for risks in East Asian economic, political and social institutions, from states to markets, from public to private bodies and from collectivities to individuals. The research program adopted a risk perspective on contemporary institutional change, building on existing research on risk and institutions within disciplines (economics, political sciences, international relations, sociology, and geography). Our research focused on regional risk within East Asia, where institutional development has occurred in a variety of ways. With the aim of providing new insights into risk issues, our research contributed to the discourse on institutional change and broadened understandings of global transformations by considering East Asian issues within European research debates.

DFG research considered processes which relate to shifting responsibilities for risks in specific cases of institutional change in the East Asian region. Research projects fell within four overarching risk sub-themes, designed to embrace disciplinary as well as interdisciplinary research perspectives:

Marketization /
Market Transformations


Marketization and changes in the institutional orders and mechanisms governing incentives to engage in market activities, and protecting against market failures.

Sunkung Choi
Individual Risk Propensity in a Group Situation; A Cross-Cultural Comparison

Steffen Heinrich
The Political Consequences of Expanding Non-regular Labour. New Employment Risks and Partisan Politics in Japan and Beyond

Sven Horak
Automotive Manufacturer and Supplier Relationships in Japan. Do Cultural Factors Play a Role in Shaping the Relationship?

Hanno Jentzsch
Village Institutions and the Agricultural Reform Process in Japan

Yuan Li
Political Economy of Public Goods Provision in China

Stenya Kountourakis
Corporate Governance of Chinese National Oil Companies within the Model of Multiple Principals – One Agent

Ann-Kathrin Prior
New Types of Financial Institutions in China

Dung Vu
Essays in Experimental Economics

Mei Yu
Transforming Pairing Institutions for Poverty Alleviation: Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility in Fugu County, China

Individualization /
Social Organizations


Individualization / Social Organizations, both from the perspective of new opportunities for self-directed activity and in the negative sense of the privatisation of risk.

Stephanie Bräuer
Women Social Organizations in the People´s Republic of China (PRC): New Forms to Initiate Political Change? A case study of anti-domestic violence (ADV) organizations in Beijing

Magnus Dau
Social Media as a Deliberative Arena: the Case of Environmental Protection Bureaus in China

Vitali Heidt
Social Risks of Aging: Livelihood, Institutional Dependence, and Exclusion of the Japanese Elderly

Alison Lamont
The Societal Impacts of the Wenchuan Earthquake: Normalizing after a Catastrophic Disaster

Iva Ognjanovic
Organizational Commitment of Young People Working in a Foreign Company in China: Morality and Class Habitus

Decentralization /
Central-Local Interaction

Decentralization / Central-Local Interaction, both from the ‘top-down’ perspective of devolving responsibility and accountability from central states to regional and local administrative units, and in the ‘bottom-up’ sense of participation, local autonomy and sustainable local development.

Ting Huang
Developing Rural Old-Age Pensions: Local Government and Policy Experimentation

Susanne Löhr
The Impact of Vertical Competition on China’s Sub-Provincial Arrangements: The Reform of Direct Provincial Administration of Counties

Armin Müller
Systemic Interdependence between Health Insurance and the Hukou System in the PRC

Hans-Christian Schnack
The Making of Minority Language Policies in Chinese Schools. Street-level bureaucracy and Curriculum Decisions in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China

Anna Shpakovskaya
Government Non-Profit Relationships in the Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Reconstruction in Chi


Transnationalization in relation to the expanded role of supra-national organizations in setting standards for the regulation of risks, and also with regard to “East Asia as a risk” for European economies and societies.

Kai Duttle
A Behavioral Finance Perspective on Momentum. Comparative Experimental Studies in Germany and Japan

Martin Heinberg
Analysis of Chinese Consumer Behavior: Value Propositions and Perceptions. Determining Purchasing Decisions with Respect to Foreign and Local Consumer Good Brands

Melanie Kogler
Risks and Responsibilities – Human Security and Japan’s Ban on Landmines and Cluster Munitions as Field of Activity for Non-state Actors

Kerstin Lukner
The Governance of Pandemic Risks in Asia

Chih-Chieh Wang
Labor Market Institutions and Social and Economic Risk-Shifting in Taiwa


Doctoral fellows received training in contemporary East Asian regional studies, as well as in a specific discipline (sociology, political science, human geography or economics), and were expected to complete the program within three years.

Risk And East Asia Training Measures

Year 1

The first program year included coursework in theories and research on risk and institutional change in comparative and East Asian studies, as well as a research methods seminar covering methodology and research design for studies in East Asia. The program in the first year was designed to assist fellows to develop their research proposals and later determine the most appropriate methodology and research design for their respective projects. In addition, fellows were given opportunities to further develop their language proficiency with advanced classes in Mandarin and Japanese.

The curriculum includeed mandatory core courses, which were team-taught by DFG academics. Doctoral fellows were invited to engage in the Core Theory Seminar on Risk and Institutional Theory, the Research Forum consisting of research presentations by post-doctoral, regular and visiting researchers, and the Research Methods in East Asia Seminar covering the intricacies and feasibility of designs and methods for research in East Asia.

Elective courses in the first year were available to fill in individual fellows' skill gaps. Summer school methods seminars were delivered by the Faculties of Social Sciences and Economics at partner institutions.

The first year concluded with the Joint Dissertation Proposal Workshop at the White Rose East Asia Centre.

Year 2

Doctoral fellows who advanced to the second year received additional support to enable them to conduct field research in East Asia.

In the September immediately preceding the second year, fellows attended the September Seminar for intensive training in conducting research in East Asia. Depending on their country specialization, doctoral fellows chose to participate in September Seminars hosted by either the School of Sociology and Population Studies, Renmin University, Beijing, or the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Tokyo.

Doctoral fellows returned to Germany in June of their second year and again joined their peers at the White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC) for a Joint Preliminary Results Workshop.

Year 3

The third and final year was spent writing the doctoral thesis and fellows were offered professional training in publishing and conference presentation to facilitate successful transition to postdoctoral and lecture positions.


funded by

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Collaborational Training Measures

The Ruhr Graduate School in Economics offered high-level statistical and economic training as part of its English-language doctoral curriculum. Doctoral fellows in economics who had the prerequisite knowledge joined advanced courses at the Ruhr Graduate School in Economics on a case-by-case basis. The Bonn Laboratory for Experimental Economic Research and the Essen Laboratory for Experimental Economics were partners of the Research Training Group and also supported training for fellows with an experimental economics focus.

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