Individual Projects · Individuelle Forschungsprojekte

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  • IN-EAST’s academics conduct numerous individual research projects and are involved in various joint research projects with other institutions.
  • Many of the projects are organised or funded by third parties and are subject to peer review. Current projects are outlined below. Information on completed projects can be found in past issues of the Institute Report.
Flemming Christiansen

China’s Urbanisation Processes and the Emergence of New Political and Social Structures in China

Current research

Explorations of how new-style communities (shequ, i. e. local-level residential areas of public-policy provisioning) emerge in a medium-sized city in central China. The empirical research examines, in the first instance, how communities cater for the social transitions of peri-urban rural people relocated into urban settings and also seeks to capture the broad variety of interests, purposes and administrative logics that determine their structure and path of development. This research topic is driven by an interest in explaining how social developments in China reflect coherent systemic logics.

Broader research interests include the Chinese in the global economy, whereby the ethnic Chinese workers overseas are regarded as part of the same “supply chains” as migrant workers in China. This research seeks to understand how forms of social and ethnic exclusion are framed in different contexts, reflecting pressures from the global economy.

Flemming Christiansen

The Frontier of Industrialization in Continental North-East Asia

Current research

The research focuses on the frontier between “empires” in Norteast Asia as the site of indistrialization processes since the 1890 up till today. The project is a joint effort with colleagues working in Sociology and History to develop common themes for possible third party funding.

Flemming Christiansen

Ideology and China

Current research

The research applies theories of ideology to an understanding of the political sociology of China as well as to non-Chinese views of Chinese civilization.

Florian Coulmas and Zi Wang

Language, Migration and Happiness: A Comparative Study of Subjective Well-Being across Three Communities in Germany

Funded by German Research Foundation (DFG), starting 2018

Does using one’s native language in a foreign environment contribute to happiness? This is the overarching question this project is designed to address. The impact of many other social variables – marital status, religion, employment, income, leisure, quality of governance, education, among others – on happiness has been investigated empirically, but not language. The focus of this three-community comparative study is on what relationship exists between language maintenance and happiness for minority communities of diverse profiles and backgrounds for their residence in Germany. It will help us to gain a more comprehensive understanding of language as a social and individual variable. No similar study has been done before.

The three communities to be investigated are the Turkish, Chinese, and Japanese communities in Germany. We acknowledge that each community is heterogenous in its own right in terms of geographical origins, backgrounds of residents, and motives of residing in Germany. However, in spite of the internal diversity, as communities they still differ markedly from each other with regard to their history of settlement in Germany and characteristic socio-economic profiles (see below for details). As we will show, such contrasting trajectories and backgrounds of the three selected groups, as well as the difference in extent to which scholarship on them is developed, facilitate the formulation of our pilot study questions and subsequent hypothesising, data collection, and ultimately the development of new theories on SWB and language maintenance among migrant groups.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the sub-­project Linguistic Landscape and Happiness: Connor Malloy (2020).
Project website:

Shuanping Dai

with Lijia Tan

Trust in Open Innovation

Opening research and development may combine the individual knowledge of contracting partners and enhance innovation efficiency, but may danger them in being cheated by partners due to the reasons of such as incomplete contracts, defective behavior. Nevertheless, the potential risk does not prevent firms from cooperation, and open innovation prevails widely in business. This project investigates how the contracting partners evaluate the trustworthiness and make open innovation investment decisions using a lab experimental approach.

Thomas Heberer

(New) Political Representative Claims: A Global View – France, Germany, Brazil, China, India

A French-German Joint ­Cooperation Project sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the French L’Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), 2016–2020.

The leading scientists in this research endeavor are Prof. Dr. Thomas Heberer (University of Duisburg-Essen) and Prof. Dr. Brigitte Geißel (Goethe University Frankfurt), as well as Prof. Yves Sintomer (Centre de Recherches Sociolo­giques et Politiques de ­Paris, CRESPPA) and Prof. Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal (Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, CNRS-EHESS, ­Paris).

Europe currently experiences a crisis of established forms of political representation, visible for example in increasing political distrust. Various claims to renew political representation are emerging all over the world. However, most contemporary research on representation focuses on electoral/mandate representation within single countries. As a result, we lack a comparative, global analysis of (new) representative claims developed outside the representative political system; and dynamics developing in the Global South, including non-democratic entities, are neglected by Western scholars. Our research intended to address these gaps by putting into perspective representative claims in France and Germany – two leading democracies in Europe actively experimenting with new concepts of representation –, and in three BRICS states: Brazil – the largest democracy in Latin America with innovative participatory devices including competing representative claims –, India – the world’s largest democracy and a pioneer in electoral quotas (as a claim for descriptive representation) –, and China – an authoritarian regime engaged in a huge transformation with specific representative claims.

Building on German and French political theories, our conceptual framework departed from standard ways of considering political representation in the context of electoral and mandate claims (e. g. Pitkin). We argued that while mandate representation remains important, it fails to account for crucial contemporary developments. Our premise is that political representation is increasingly related to the (re)emergence of new representative claims, i. e. situations in which an actor claims to speak/act in the name of others. Such claims are most often based on the denunciation of misrepresentation, which they pretend to correct. However, in spite of the increasing variety of representative claims around the world, a comprehensive conceptual framework and a typology allowing a deeper understanding of these claims are missing and we addressed this conceptual gap.

In the five countries under scrutiny, we identified different situations in which (seemingly) new representative claims were raised, criticized or justified. Proceeding through a carefully designed common methodological framework, our research pursued the objective of analyzing developments of representative claims from a global, transnational perspective. To reach this objective we focused on two research fields. We analyzed: (1) Representative claims at the national level (national parliaments and media) raised during three national debates in each country; (2) Representative claims raised in three participatory devices at the subnational level in each country. At both levels representative claims are justified with alleged misrepresentation of certain groups/individuals within the given representative bodies. We rested on qualitative methods for data collection and applied the adjusted Representative Claim Analysis for data analyses. To scale up our findings, we followed the “case-thinking” approach, identify patterns of representative claims, developed a typology which can be applied for “terminological, classificatory and heuristic means’ (Weber 1921), and theorized the findings in the context of modern democratic theory.

The Duisburg team was responsible of the sub-project on China. It focused on the following policy fields: (a) Representation in authoritarian political entities; (b) Formal and informal patterns of representation and representative claims of private entrepreneurs, business organizations and formal and informal entrepreneurial networks; (c) Connective representation, i. e. new patterns of representation and representative claims by means of the cyberspace.

Fieldwork in China was conducted in 2016 in Beijing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Haikou and Sanya (February–April), from February to April 2017 in Beijing, Guangzhou, Kunming, Cangyuan, Lincang, Mile, Jianshui, Mengzi, Xichang, Hangzhou and Qing­dao, and in March and April 2018 in Beijing, Hangzhou, Wenzhou, Suzhou, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Jiaozuo and Wenxian. In March 2019 we cooperated with the School of Public Affairs at Zhejiang University to host an international conference focusing on new and innovative forms of political representation at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in this project is Dr. Anna Shpakovskaya.

Momoyo Hüstebeck

Innovative Forms of Democratic Participation: Deliberations in a ­Japanese and German Comparison

Funded by BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research), No. 01UL 1828X, 09/2018–08/2021

As the principal investigator of the research project, Momoyo Hüstebeck scrutinizes the empirical impact of deliberative innovations on German and Japanese representative democracies. To counteract the widely lamented (partial) crisis of established democracies, political scientists have pursued more direct says of citizens in institutional policy-­making processes. In this context, deliberative methods provide a public opinion on a given political topic for a governmental policy-making.

The project investigates, based on normative theories of deliberative and participatory democracies against this background, whether new deliberative methods are effective responses to the democratic challenges. Among the vast number of European and some Japanese case studies of deliberative innovations, a research with a German-Japanese comparative approach is still lacking. Thus, the bi-national comparison shall reveal, how deliberative innovations are politically and socially embedded in the respective political system.

For Japan, mini-publics and the first national Deliberative Poll in 2012 serve as empirical cases. Mini-publics are the most widely spread deliberative method in Japan. Local governments implement mini-publics for citizens’ voices concerning local long-term policies. In the Deliberative Poll, randomly selected citizens from all over Japan discussed and formed their opinions about Japan’s future energy strategies after the nuclear accident.

Momoyo Hüstebeck was a guest fellow at the Waseda University and the DIJ in Tokyo in May 2019. She searched empirically for the functions of mini-publics in the local governance of Mitaka City and Shinjuku Ward. Moreover, she interviewed the organizers of the national Deliberative Poll about their intentions to implement it and their assessments of its political outcome.

Yuan Li

The Impact of New Silk Road Railways on Local Economic Development

Current research

One of the main focuses of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by the Chinese government is connecting East Asia and Europe through multimodal transportation corridors. For the land route of the Belt and Road Initiative, the connection is mainly realized by railroads, especially through the China-Europe Express Railways. According to a recent development plan these railway lines will triple in the next few years. The research tries to provide the latest scientific evidence on the implications for a European city to open up a new railway link with China. We use quasi-experimental methods to evaluate the impact of trans-continental rail connection on various economic outcomes by controlling for time-invariant, region-specific effects, as well as year-specific effects. We consider both geographical and spillover effects of the railways.

Yuan Li

Infrastructure Development and ­Inclusive Growth: Impact Evaluation, Transmission Mechanisms and the Role of Institutions

Current research

Achieving inclusive growth is a serious challenge faced by many governments and international development institutions who invest heavily in infrastructure. This challenge is particularly acute amid slowdown of the global economy and rising income inequality worldwide. However, researches on inclusive growth and the infrastructure-inclusive growth nexus are lagging behind. Even today, indicator(s) of inclusive growth is absent. Against this background, this project will (1) develop the first theoretical model that allows us to explain inclusive growth as a function of relevant drivers, including infrastructure variables; (2) propose a method to aggregate different kinds of infrastructures, build a comprehensive database on infrastructure projects, and measure the overall performance of infrastructure for different countries and at the sub-national level; (3) construct analytical frameworks, exploring the empirical relationship between inclusive growth and infrastructure, including the underlying transmission mechanisms; (4) emphasize the roles played by institutions and institutional quality in affecting inclusive growth, infrastructure development and the relationship between both; (5) derive policy implications and policy suggestions based on research findings and counter-factual analyses.

Nele Noesselt

Rollenwandel und Rollenkontestationsprozesse in der VR China: ­Globalisierung “chinesischer” ­Ordnungskonzeptionen?

Principal Investigator
Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Projektnummer 238920157, 2020–2023

Das Forschungsprojekt beleuchtet die globalen Implikationen, die aus den institutionellen Reformen und der Neuausrichtung des chinesischen Entwicklungsweges seit 2013 resultieren. Bei der Re-Kalibrierung des chinesischen Partei-Staates werden – wie die Auswertung der innerchinesischen Debatten zu Governance-Formen und Entwicklungswegen (2002–2017) gezeigt hat – Veränderungen des globalen Handlungsumfeldes reflektiert und mögliche Spill-­Over-­Effekte auf die VR China kalkuliert. Zugleich aber impliziert die verstärkte globale Präsenz der VR China und ihre neue Wirtschaftsstärke, dass chinesische ­Governance-­Konzeptionen an Einfluss auf die Reform der internationalen Institutionenordnung gewinnen könnten. Die „Neue Seidenstraßen“-Initiative ist nur ein Beispiel, wie nationale Entwicklungsmodelle der VR China auf regionale und globale Räume umgeschrieben werden. Innerhalb der VR China liegen zahlreiche konkurrierende Konzeptionen von politischer Herrschaft, Ordnungsprinzipien und Chinas globaler Rolle vor, die unter den Frak­tio­nen innerhalb der Kommunistischen Partei wie auch den zahlreichen epistemischen Gemeinschaften kontrovers debattiert werden. Chinas offizielles nationales Rollenset durchläuft eine umfassende Rekonfiguration. Untersuchungen zu dem Phänomen der Rollenkontestation haben sich bislang primär auf demokratisch-pluralistische Systeme konzentriert. Rollenkontestationsprozesse in modernen Autokratien sind weiterhin untertheoretisiert; die Rekonfiguration des offiziellen Rollensets der VR China und der damit verbundenen Konzepte Identität und (globaler) Status ist noch nicht umfassend systematisch aufgearbeitet worden.

Das Forschungsprojekt möchte diese Lücke schließen. Hierzu sollen vertikale und horizontale Rollenkontestationsprozesse und die Rekalibrierung des offiziellen nationalen Rollensets der VR China unter Berücksichtigung der (Rollen-)Interaktionen mit zentralen anderen Staaten untersucht werden. Änderungen hinsichtlich offizieller Rollenansprüche oder Modifikationen hinsichtlich der strategischen globalen Positionierung eines Akteurs müssen nicht – wie die Forschung zu Rollenkontestationsprozessen in demokratisch-pluralistischen Systemen gezeigt hat – aus globalen Strukturveränderungen resultieren. Vielmehr können diese auch Paradigmenwechsel und die partielle Substituierung von Leitideen im nationalen Kontext abbilden. Dies hat unmittelbare Implikationen für den Bereich der Politikanalyse und Politikberatung: Eine systematische theoriebasierte Analyse der Rollenkontestationsprozesse der VR China wird vor diesem Hintergrund zu einer unverzichtbaren Grundlage für die Bestimmung der treibenden Kräfte und Determinanten hinter den offiziellen Rollenansprüchen der VR China und ihrer strategischen Positionierung in bilateralen Interaktionen und auf weltpolitischer Ebene.

İbrahim Öztürk

The Belt and Road Initiative as a Hybrid International Public Good (IPG)

Current research

This research is on the institutional quality of BRI as a newly evolving governance platform with IPG characteristics to stimulate global cooperation in infrastructure development across the Eurasian landmass, the heartland of the emerging multiplex world. With an interdisciplinary perspective, the research employs Agency and Institutional Economic theories to address potential principal-agent controversies and therefore resulting collective action problems. They must be minimised in a way that BRI could successfully address both the conflicting as well as overlapping demands and supply conditions of a needed hybrid IPG, which requires an effective amalgamation between the Western experience of public good creation in the post-WW2 and China’s indigenous values. These qualities of BRI are questioned in the specific context of Central Asia that takes place along its critical West-Asian economic corridor.

Werner Pascha

Current Issues of the Political Economies of Japan and Korea: Comparative Research

Funded by the Bertelsmann Foundation, 2009–2021

Werner Pascha is contributing to projects of the Bertelsmann Foundation that promise stringent comparisons between various countries, based on a rigorous and detailed analytical framework. As for Japan, the framework is given by the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) project. It analyzes and compares the need for reform in OECD member countries, as well as their ability to respond to current social and political challenges. The project is designed to create a comprehensive data pool on government-related activities in the world’s developed, free-market democracies. With respect to South Korea, the framework is the Comparative Crisis Management project of Bertelsmann Foundation which intends to evaluate the capacities and abilities of the political management in selected developing and transition countries in response to the global financial and economic crisis. In 2018 it was agreed to extend the work on SGI reports on Japan until 2021.

Werner Pascha

The Current Wave of Infrastructure Initiatives, Focussing on the Role of Japan

Own funds, from 2018

There is a lot of interest on the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative due to its economic weight and political as well as geo-strategic repercussions. At the same time, BRI is not the only initiative in this field. Rather, BRI should be seen in the context of other national and multilateral schemes. For instance, the reforms of BRI that were announced during the Second BRI Forum in 2019 can only be understood when taking the dynamism of various parallel developments into consideration. The current project covers this perspective. As for national approaches, the project focuses on Japan, whose “Partnership for Quality Infrastructure” of 2015/16 is a reaction to BRI, but also reflects on earlier Japanese initiatives, at least going back to the 1990s. On the multilateral level, mechanisms like G7, G20 and OECD have taken up the idea of “quality infrastructure”. The project has so far led to various articles on different aspects of the topic.

Werner Pascha with Diana Schüler and Mihaela Suhalitca

together with a team from Chungnam National University, Daejeon (Rep. of Korea)

Regional Differences of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in South Korea and Germany

Funded by DAAD and Korea Research Foundation, 03/2018–2019, ongoing

This is a comparative study of the relationship between regional differences and creating entrepreneurship on a local level in Germany and (South) Korea. The joint project aims to explore the distinct features of entrepreneurial ecosystems in different regions and the influence on startup activities. The project includes two field studies in Korea by the German team and two more field trips by the Korean team to Germany. Publication of several papers is ongoing.

Giulia Romano

“Community Governance” with ­Chinese Characteristics?: Learning from Abroad and Inno­vating for Elderly Care in China

Project supported by the UDE programme Programm zur Förderung des exzellenten wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchses

Focusing on the introduction of the “yi fang yang lao” (housing-for-pension) policy and on the use and implementation of concepts such as “social governance” (shehui zhili) and “community governance” (shequ zhili), this research project looks at the innovation and/or re-elaborations of existing policies and approaches at city level to respond to the daunting challenge of population ageing in China. Since 2013 with the housing-­for-pension policy, and since 2016 in the case of “community governance”, Chinese cities are exploring suitable and possibly viable ways to deal with their ageing populations, and particularly with their most vulnerable groups, mostly based on self-help and on encouraging volunteers support. Such solutions also make great use of new digital technologies, with the scope of making administrative intervention more efficient, prompt and ad hoc. At this early stage, the aim of this project is that of inventorying such local innovations and understanding their origins, among which it is possible to find foreign experiences (American, European, and Asian). This shall help in the development of a second research step that looks into the implementation and the concrete practices developed at grassroots administrative level (the “street offices” – jiedao – and their “branches”, the resident committees and communities – juweiyuanhui and shequ).

Helmut Schneider

Geography of Urban Property Markets

Current research

Urban property markets are more and more in the focus of financial investors. The links between the financial economy and the property markets imply many risks for the whole economy on all spatial scales as the latest example of the financial crisis of 2008 has shown. On the other hand access to affordable housing is a growing problem not only in less developed countries but also in the developed world, a problem that is intensified by the financialisation oft the economy. Both, the financialisation of urban property markets as well as the growing housing poblem unfold on different spatial scales. Urban and economic geography have a set of theoretical and methodological approaches and tools to offer for analysing the heterogenous dynamics of urban property markets. The research focus is especially on the links between different spatial scales affecting those dynamics. A special focus is on Düsseldorf and the former industrial and workers quarter of Oberbilk.

Helmut Schneider

Geopolitics of the Chinese Belt and Road Initative

Current research

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative was launched in a period of rapid change of the global world order. Globalization has slowed down since the financial crisis of 2008 and the hegemonial position of the United States has weakened significantly. At the same time the growing global political weight of the PR of China can be observed. When a hegemonial regime is declining and a new one is not yet implemented, the world is entering a period of growing rivalry of regional powers, each trying to control their zones of influence: The control of (smaller) territories is gaining importance over the control of flows and networks, and the probability of territorial conflicts is growing. In science and in politics geopolitics is back on the agenda. The geopolitical research questions are: Will the Chinese BRI in the present period of rapid change of the global world order help to produce and guarantee much needed global public goods like the freedom and safety of trade, travel and communication, the safety of investments, the rule of law, a stable global financial system? Or will it, as part of a national imperial strategy, add further to global rivalry and conflict (like e.g. the conflict in the South China Sea)?

Helmut Schneider

Environmental Conflicts in Southeast Asia

Current research

In this research environmental conflicts are defined as conflicts in which environment or single natural elements (e.  g. water, land) play a crucial role. That does not necessarily mean, that such conflicts are also caused by e.g. environmental degradation (although sometimes this might be the case). It is assumed that environmental conflicts, as conflicts in general, can only be understood and solved, when their (social, cultural, economic and political) context is considered properly. A basic hypothesis is that environment and natural elements, as a rule, are functioning as threat multipliers rather than single causes of conflicts. And they do so in very different ways. Due to the already noticeable, more so the predicted effects of climate change and a growing interest of financial investors for natural resources it is assumed, that environmental conflicts in Southeast Asia will increase in the future in terms of numbers as well as degree.

Diana Schüler

The Relationship between Entre­preneurship and Unemployment: Evidence from South Korea

Current research

As a complementary research project to her dissertation about entrepreneurship in South Korea, Diana Schüler explores the causality between entrepreneurship and unemployment in South Korea. This relationship has been widely studied in Western developed economies, and evidence for both the refugee and the entrepreneurial effect has been found. The purpose of this project is to expand the empirical literature by examining the relationship between entrepreneurship and unemployment in the South Korean context via a time-series analysis. Two different measures for entrepreneurship, namely self-employment and newly established corporations, are used.

Karen Shire

Host for and Joint Research with Prof. Sylvia Walby,

University of Lancaster, winner of Anneliese Maier Research Award by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, 2018–2023

The award was made on the basis of the nomination submitted by Karen Shire. She is Sylvia Walby’s host, together with the Institute of Sociology (IfS) and the Essen College for Gender Research (EKfG). In 2019–2020 Karen Shire and Sylvia Walby published a special issue of Social Politics with seven contributions from a workshop organized in June 2019. The entire special issue is available open access: . One contribution co-authored with Kumiko Nemoto, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, compares conservative gender regimes in Germany and Japan (Karen Shire and Kumiko Nemoto (2020): The Origins and Transformation of Conservative Gender Regimes in Germany and Japan. In: Social Politics, 27(3), 432–448. Karen Shire and Sylvia Walby organized a Webinar on September 24, 2020 to launch the special issue, which can be viewed at: .

Karen Shire

Outsourcing of Domestic Labour

Survey Module included in the GESIS Panel; 2020–21

An application for a replication of a survey module designed together with Prof. Dr. Rainer Schnell, Institute for Sociology, UDE was accepted for the SOEP Innovation Sample. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the implementation of the question module was postponed until the fall of 2021.

Karen Shire

Study Group convened by Clemence Ledoux (Université de Nantes)

The Politics of Fiscal Welfare Markets

Funded by Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg, 2016–2018 (publication funding extended to 2019)

In 2019 to conclude the research group, Clemence Ledoux (University of Nantes), Franca van Hooren (University of Amsterdam) and Karen Shire completed and submitted a manuscript for publication to the Palgrave Press Work and Welfare in Europe series, scheduled for publication in February 2021:

Karen Shire

Collaboration, Principle Investigator Prof. Ursula Mense-Petermann and Prof. Thomas Welskopp, University of Bielefeld

In Search of Global Labour

Funded by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF), University of Bielefeld, 2017–2018 (publication funding extended to 2019)

Karen Shire was appointed to a residence fellowship in this group, and joined workshops at ZiF in October 2017 and June 2018, co-organized a workshop for the group in April 2018, and participated in the final workshop of the group in February 2019. In 2019 and 2020 Karen Shire collaborated on a series of publications, including contributing an article to a special issue of Global Networks (Karen Shire (2020): The Social Order of Transnational Migration Markets. In: Global Networks 20(3), 434–453. and with Stephan Heinrich and Hannelore Mottweiler, contributing an article to a special issue of Journal of Industrial Relations (Steffen Heinrich, Karen Shire, Hannelore Mottweiler (2020): Fighting (for) the margins: Trade union responses to the emergence of cross-border temporary agency work in the EU. In: Journal of Industrial Relations, 62(2), 210–234. In 2019 and 2020 Karen Shire participated in the preparation of a joint book, and together with Sven Kesselring, is editing one section of this volume, which has been accepted for publication at Brill Press, and forthcoming in 2021.

Yuko Sugita und Axel Klein

Mobiles Lernen der japanischen Grammatik für die Mittelstufe / Mobile Learning Tool for Improving Intermediate Japanese Grammar

Sponsor: Lehr-Lern-Innovationen, Zentrum für Hochschulqualitätsentwicklung der Universität Duisburg-Essen, Programm­runde 2020, 02/2020–02/2021

Kei Takata

Cosmopolitan Publics in Isolation: Japanese Global Sixties in between the First and the Third World

Current research

This is a book project on the historical sociology of the Japanese global sixties movement. By situating Japanese sixties movements in between the First and the Third World binary, the project explores the ways in which the Japanese movements became global by overcoming structural and cultural constraints for transnational network building. The project introduces the original concept of cosmopolitan publics and analyzes the transnational communication between the Japanese and the First and the Third World activists. In conclusion, it argues that globality was, in fact, the crucial factor for the cultural change of “1968 revolution,” especially in the case of Japan, for the civil society to transform its political culture to focus on race, diversity, and Asia.

Markus Taube

The Institutional Foundations of Innovation in China

Current research

In recent years, innovation research has clearly shown that innovation-driven economic development relies on a broad foundation of benign cultural, social, political, and economic framework conditions. Institutions based in various social regimes must incentivize innovation creating behavior as well as the acceptance and diffusion of these very innovations in society. There exists no “one-fits-all” institutional set-up outlining the preconditions for successful innovation-driven development. Cultural idiosyncrasies, variations in the availability and costs of specific resources and competencies, specific goals of ruling elites etc. all lead to specific manifestations and combinations of institutions that in their totality promote innovation in varying intensity and on differing social and technological trajectories.

Against this background, China constitutes a highly interesting case study for the analysis of the institutional requirements as well as evolutionary genesis of innovation-driven economic development in a large non-Western society. After three decades of highly successful catching-up economic development based on the emulation of foreign institutions, business models and technologies, the Chinese economy has now reached a stage where it needs to foster more endogenous innovation in order to evade (relative) stagnation in what has become known as the “middle income trap”. This requires substantial alterations not only in the structural set-up and incentive systems governing the Chinese economy, but also in the fabric and underlying norms and values structuring society as well as the self-understanding of the political elite and its organization of political processes.

The Chinese business sector is already responding to the need for more endogenous innovation in all sectors and segments of the economy. By doing so, it is exerting pressure for changes in the social fabric. At the same time Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party appear to be highly committed to transforming the economic system and promoting an innovation-friendly institutional set-up – while upholding an unwavering claim to power. The Hayekian postulate according to which only free (democratic and market-based) societies can feature dynamic, innovation-driven development dynamics instantly comes to one’s mind as a “belief” of Western institutionalism and “Ordnungspolitik” that needs to be reflected upon in the Chinese context.

Markus Taube

The Chinese State-Business Nexus

Current research

When China joined the WTO in December 2001, it agreed that other countries, notably the European Union (EU) could continue to treat it as a “non-market economy” for the purposes of trade defense measures. The background to this special arrangement lay in the fact that at the turn of the century the Chinese economy was still in transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy based on scarcity prices and free competition. There neither existed a comprehensive set of institutions that could support comprehensive market exchanges in the economy, nor was the government willing and give up its claim to directly steer economic development of the economy, its sectors as well as its major firms.

In expectation of substantial progress of China’s transition towards a full-fledged market economy in the coming years, the Protocol of Accession of China to the WTO outlined that 15 years after its accession China’s status might be upgraded to a “market economy”. While China interpreted the wording of these paragraphs as guaranteeing it an automatic transition to “market economy” status, the EU upheld the position that China would have to demonstrate that it complies with the five criteria defining the “market economy” status. With all economic observers agreeing, that China did not fulfil these criteria (by a wide margin) at the end of 2016, the dispute focused on juridical exchanges on the existence of a guarantee or not. Eventually, the dispute was solved with some diplomatic genius that neither awarded China the status of a “market economy”, nor inflicted a massive loss of face to one of Europe’s most import trade partners and thereby might have provoked an open trade war. The solution found is to completely give up the differentiation between “market” and “non-market” economies – not only with regard to China, but all economies. Instead, for all trade defense measures the normal reference value will be the domestic prices. However, if significant distortions (e.g. caused by state interferences) affecting domestic prices can be shown to prevail, international benchmark prices can be used instead. In order to make this new mechanism operational, the European Commission is going to publish specific reports identifying such distortions in on an economy-wide or specific sector level. EU manufacturers can then refer to these reports in order to determine the basis for complaints and to calculate what the normal reference prices should be.

Research is being conducted in order to assess the degree to which Chinese industries are operating according to competition-based market standards or are subjected to market-distorting governmental interventions.

Markus Taube

Economic Implications of the “Belt and Road Initiative”

Current research

A major impulse for economic development in the Eurasian continent as well as a restructuring of the global division of labour might be created with the unfolding of what has become known as the “One Belt, One Road” or “Belt and Road” initiative. Proposed by Chinese government in 2013 the initiative aims at creating a comprehensive network of transport corridors and an integrated industrial fabric spanning from China via the Middle East and Central Asia to Europe. In the course of this multilateral industrialization programme new regional and multilateral institutions that complement or compete with existing regional/global governance systems can be expected to evolve. Their shape as well as the concrete impact of the potentially emerging new regional value chains on global goods flows, investment activity, local as well as international labour markets, local and supra-national institution building, however, remains undetermined. The disruptive changes brought up by the “Belt and Road” initiative cannot result in a win-win for all parties, but will entail some a reorganization of absolute and relative wealth, income generation possibilities and economic as well as political power projection capacity. New research initiatives are required to better understand the parameters at play and identify potential local/regional/global development patterns.

Jens Wrona

Principal investigator together with 9 other professors from UDE, RUB, TU Dortmund, and University of Münster

Regional Disparities and Economic Policy

Research Training Group 2484, funded by German Research Foundation (DFG), 10/2019–03/2024

The overarching goal of the RTG Regional Disparities and Economic Policy is to provide an outstanding education for doctoral students while at the same time contributing to frontier research in the exciting and dynamic field of regional economics. Combining the expertise of scholars from distinct economic backgrounds (e.g. labor, public, macro) and thus different methodological skills, institutional knowledge, and data access, we establish a graduate program that promises internationally visible scientific output and an excellent academic training environment for PhD candidates.

Research Agenda
Regional disparities – for example with respect to income, housing costs, labor market, education and health outcomes – are pronounced, persistent, and at times divergent, but the debate about their origins, consequences, and appropriate policy responses is still largely unresolved. The RTG Regional Disparities and Economic Policy aims to improve our knowledge of underlying economic mechanisms and hence lay the groundwork for well-founded policy recommendations by applying and further developing recent methodological advances in regional economics as well as utilizing unique data sets. To this end, the Research Data Center at RWI – Leibniz-Institute for Economic Research, specialized on regional data, constitutes an important partner of the RTG.

Qualification Program
The RTG Regional Disparities and Economic Policy provides doctoral students with an excellent environment for a completion of high-quality dissertations in its research area. The comprehensive qualification program combines a short, concentrated course program with structured research guidance and ample opportunities for feedback and discussion, allowing for dissertation completion within three years and promoting careers in academia, research institutes, the private economy and the public sector, including international organizations.

The Group
The RTG brings together eight internationally visible professors from different sub-disciplines within economics (e. g. public economics, macroeconomics, labor economics, regional economics or health economics) who share a genuine interest in regional aspects of the economy and access to and expertise in handling highly relevant data sets: Thomas Bauer (Professor of Economics, Faculty of Management and Economics, Ruhr University Bochum), Christiane Hellmanzik (Professor of Urban, Regional and International Economics, TU Dortmund University), Philip Jung (Professor of Economics, TU Dortmund), Martin Karlsson (Professor of Economics, University of Duisburg-Essen), Sanne Kruse-Becher (Junior Professor of Macroeconomics, Ruhr Universität Bochum), Marie Paul (Professor for Quantitative Methods in Economics, Mercator School of Management (MSM), University of Duisburg-Essen), Nadine Riedel (Professor for Economic Policy and Regional Economics, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster), Tobias Seidel (Professor of Economics, Mercator School of Management (MSM), University of Duisburg-Essen), Jens Wrona (Professor for New Economic Geography and East Asia, Mercator School of Management and Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen), Galina Zudenkova (Professor of Public Finance, Faculty of Business and Economics, TU Dortmund).
Together with about seven incoming doctoral students each year they form the RTG group. An extensive personal and institutional research network and RTG activities geared to outgoing and incoming (guest) researchers place its research and qualification program in the center of the international research environment in the field. The combination of methodological and topical knowledge from different sub-fields makes this RTG unique.

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Former Individual Research Projects
Frühere individuelle Forschungsprojekte

Birgit Apitzsch

(mit Jun.-Prof. Dr. Maximiliane Wilkesmann und Dr. Caroline Ruiner, TU Dortmund)

Kollektive Individualisierung – individuelle Kollektivierung? Zur Aushandlung von Arbeitsbedingungen im Bereich der hochqualifizierten Solo-Selbstständigen

MERCUR (Stiftung Mercator / Mercator Research Center Ruhr), 03/2015–06/2017

Katharina Borgmann

Cityscapes of Tomorrow: Contextualisation Process of Urban Sustainability Concepts

Awarded with a research grant of the university programme Programm zur Förderung des exzellenten Wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchses, starting June 2018

This research project is dedicated to the analysis of the adaptation and contextualisation process of urban sustainability concepts in China and India. The need for a careful analysis and understanding of adaptation and contextualisation processes is strongly highlighted by the two leading developments in the global perspective of urbanisation: the New Urban Agenda (United Nations 2016) and WBGU’s concept of Eigenart (WBGU 2016). In the rapidly growing and changing urban environments, of which China and India are prime representatives, it is even more pressing to understand local spatial contexts to adjust and translate urban concepts to the specific local needs and circumstances. This research is aimed to directly contribute to this discussion and to shed light on how sustainable city-building concepts are contextualised in China and in India, and paying careful attention to what the characteristics are of the role that Singapore plays in that process of transfer and appropriation. The scholarly discussion categorises Singapore as having fewer challenges in bilateral transfers – compared to Sino-European and Indo-European – due to the kinship with China and India; meanwhile, reports of actors of these collaborations frequently indicate otherwise (see Inkpen et al. 2006). The different experiences of China (a more established test ground for a variety of different spatial models in the realm of sustainable urbanisation strategies) and India (a country that has just started ‘The 100 Smart Cities’ programme) are excellent grounds for a comparative research. Within the disciplines of the built environment sciences (city planning, urban design, and architecture) Indian sustainable urban development in comparison to China is only at the very beginning. This project provides the opportunity to contribute to closing the gap in knowledge.

Katharina Borgmann and Deirdre Sneep

Traditionally High Tech: The Urban Transformations of Beijing and ­Tokyo for the Olympic Games

This research project analyses the urban transformations that have taken place or are currently taking place in the case of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Besides the economic investment, there are considerable similarities in the hosting of the event in the two cities: in particular, both are trying to construct an image of a ‘global’ and ‘high-tech’ city while simultaneously trying to showcase the cities’ heritage, and emphasize the image of being ‘traditional’, in their unique interpretation. This paper discusses the conceptualization, design, and planning of the main Olympic venues of Beijing and Tokyo and traces how in the design and planning for the Games, tradition and innovation not only coexist, but how the Games function as a catalyst to promote these two seemingly contrasting aspects and serve to re-brand the host city and shape the cities’ identities.

Katharina Borgmann and Giulia Romano

Sustainable Urban Development ­Diplomacy Strategies: Transfer ­Processes of Ideas, Concepts, Frameworks, and Their Functions
Sustainable urban development, and its many variations (“eco-cities”, “low-carbon cities”, “smart cities”, etc.), developed in the last two decades as one of the main themes of cooperation between China and its partners. European countries and Singapore are competing to offer new concepts and solutions to improve Chinese cities, as well as technologies, expertise and plans for new developments. This research project would like to explore the “functions” played by these initiatives, focusing on the considerations in terms of “self-image” made by these countries; the narratives supporting them; and finally the “structures” upon which they build their offer of “sustainable urban development” models. The project focuses in particular on the case of Singapore as an exporter of urban solutions, and possibly extends, in a second phase, to Germany and France.

Katharina Borgmann and Mira Schüller

Development of Geodata-based Tools to Measure Urban Mobility: Walkability Pattern Analysis in the Case of Wuhan, China
The built environment shapes mobility behaviour and vice versa. Walkability has become a prominent element in the mobility discourse, growing to be recognised as conducive for the creation of sustainable and healthy cities. However, empirical data of behaviour patterns of non-motorised individual mobility (e. g. pedestrians and cyclists) are rarely available or not collected at all due to the difficulties of doing that systemically, especially on micro scale. User-­centred valuation methods and technologies offer new scopes and potentials in this research field.

It is the aim of this research project to discuss the preliminary results of the Wuhan case study analysis carried out with the developed geodata and route-based digital planning tool. The tool helps record, analyse, and visualise active mobility behaviour from macro to micro level in connection to the respective spatial urban surroundings. It employs individual motorisation video data from mechatronics and links it with the methods of spatial analysis. By applying this tool, we expect to gain better understanding of the reciprocal factors influencing non-­motorized mobility behaviour and respective micro-scale spatial features. The developed standardised evaluation tool allows us to draw conclusions and comparison between different case studies. Most importantly, the tool provides an up-to-date basis for scenario development aiming at improving active mobility of pedestrians and cyclists. The introduced digital planning tool could serve as a crucial element to inform policy and planning decision makers on aspects of mobility that could be then included in planning strategies.

Winfried Flüchter

The Territorialisation of the Sea: Maritime Boundary Conflicts in East Asia – Powers, Interests and National Identities

Current project

Since 1994, the juridical guidelines of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are applied for making use of the biggest “land seizure” of the sea in history. Particularly the impact of the establishment of an Exclusive Economic Zone upon the oceans has been immense. Instead of res nullius (“nobody’s object“), large parts of the ocean space and its resources (approximately one third) have been “nationalized”, i.e. brought under coastal state jurisdiction (however not state sovereignty). With regard to East Asian Waters this research project focusses on the open conflicts the abutting nations (China, Japan, Russia, South Korea) are faced with each other in terms of

(1) the national belonging of whatever tiny, putatively unimportant islands, lumps of rock or coral reefs and, based on their existence, the establishment of an Exclusive Economic Zone

(2) the struggle for islands between China and Japan (Diaoyu/Senkaku), between Japan and South Korea (Takeshima/Dokdo) and between Japan and Russia (southern Kuriles) in the context of UNCLOS’ maritime boundary guidelines and of history

(3) hyper-nationalism as part of territorial disputes: Reasons and risks for military escalation. Why nationalism is so much entwined territorially?

(4) paradigm shift back to traditional geopolitics? Learning from history?

(5) managing and resolving territorial disputes in East Asia based on a combination of different values of international relations theories (particularly constructivism and liberalism).

Thomas Heberer and Gunter Schubert (University of Tübingen)

Local Governance in China:
The Interaction of two Strategic Groups – Local Cadres and Private Entrepreneurs

Funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research, 2010 – October 2016

This project was part of the competence network Governance in China: Prerequisites, Constraints and Potentials for Political Adaption and Innovation Capacity in the 21st Century funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and in cooperation with Prof. Björn Alpermann (Würzburg) and Prof. Heike Holbig (Frankfurt and Hamburg).

Since 2014, the focus of the sub-project conducted by Thomas Heberer and Gunter Schubert has been shifted to the interaction between private entrepreneurs and local governments, and the organizational behavior and policy impact of entrepreneurs as a “strategic group”. Working at the lower tiers of the Chinese state, i.e., foremost at county, township and village level, we have found it most useful in our efforts to understand the local policy process, or ‘how things are getting done’ in China, to adhere to the concept of local developmentalism. We combine this, however, with ‘strategic group’ analysis to grasp the internal dynamics of the local developmental state, most notably the interaction between local governments and private entrepreneurs since the early 2000s and, particularly, in the aftermath of the 2008 outbreak of the global financial crisis. Based on preliminary fieldwork conducted in 14 cities or county-level entities in the provinces of Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hubei, Jilin, Hainan, Beijing and Guangdong respectively, this project has three objectives, i.e.,

– to investigate to what extent the local developmental state of today differs from its early counterparts in the 1980s and 1990s, most importantly the local corporatist state, a specific variant of the developmental type, so aptly described in the work of Jean Oi and others;

– to investigate if state-business relations in today’s local state show signs of change when compared to the findings of the earlier literature on the ‘corporatist’, ‘entrepreneurial’, ‘clientelist’ or ‘predatory’ state observed in the 1990s;

– to investigate the interaction between leading local cadres at county and township level and private entrepreneurs.

We argued that the relationship between local governments and private entrepreneurs has evolved over the past decade or so to become more horizontal than it has been in the early days of local developmentalism, meaning that private entrepreneurs have arguably gained more autonomy from local governments as market competition has increased and market institutions have matured. Local governments not only face rising difficulties in securing sound private sector development in times of global financial stress and structural change in the Chinese economy, but also in steering private entrepreneurship the way they did in former times. ‘Traditional’ local state corporatism and entrepreneurialism have given way to ‘service-oriented government’, with local governments in the more developed parts of China becoming ‘inhibited’ developmental states in the sense that they are increasingly bound to private entrepreneurs in a relationship of mutual dependency to make ends meet. The latter, for their part, are in a state of flux, slowly accumulating strategic power to keep the local state at bay and exert pressure on local governments. Though not yet recognizable, private entrepreneurs in China are a strategic group ‘in the making’, i.e., a potential strategic group. Even if they act collectively only in an uncoordinated way, their overarching interests and rational behavior gradually change the dynamics of local politics in contemporary China, resulting in a realignment of local government-business relations that may become the hallmark of a new era of ‘Chinese capitalism’ and, arguably, strengthen the political system’s adaptive capacity.

Timo Heinrich

(with Felix S. Bethke)

Kulturelle Unterschiede bei Risikopräferenzen und Wahrnehmung außenpolitischer Ereignisse

Gefördert vom Profilschwerpunkt Wandel von Gegenwartsgesellschaften, Universität Duisburg-Essen, 09/2016–08/2017

Das geplante interdisziplinäre Forschungsvorhaben befasst sich mit experimenteller Grundlagenforschung zu kulturellen Unterschieden bei individuellen Risikopräferenzen und der Wahrnehmung von politischen Ereignissen. Kulturelle Unterschiede sind in diesem Kontext vor allem durch zwei Aspekte relevant. Erstens unterscheiden sich Individuen aus unterschiedlichen Kulturkreisen u.U. in ihrer Bereitschaft Risiken einzugehen und in der Bewertung von Entscheidungsalternativen als risikobehaftet oder risikoarm. Zweitens besteht zwischen Individuen unterschiedlicher Kulturkreise u.U. kein einheitliches Verständnis über die Bedeutung von Situationen und Ereignissen, auf deren Grundlage Präferenzen gebildet und letztlich Entscheidungen getroffen werden.

Ziel des geplanten Forschungsvorhabens ist die empirische Überprüfung von kulturellen Unterschieden bei Risikopräferenzen und Ereigniswahrnehmung mittels experimenteller Online-Umfragen in China und den USA. Die zwei zentralen Forschungsfragen sind dementsprechend, ob sich Individuen in China und den USA hinsichtlich ihrer Risikopräferenzen und/oder Ereigniswahrnehmung unterscheiden. Darüber hinaus soll auch der Einfluss von Risikopräferenzen auf Ereigniswahrnehmung analysiert werden.

Tao Liu

Principle Investigator

Kooperationsforschung zum chinesisch-deutschen Katastrophenrisikomanagement in der Landwirtschaft

Funded by the Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (BLE), 2016–2018

This project aims to compare the catastrophe management mechanisms in the agriculture of Germany and China through connecting with the theory of risk society and social protection. Furthermore, this project seeks to undertake explorative study to investigate to what extent the German experiences of the agricultural catastrophe management are able to be transferred to China.

Beate Löffler

(with Carola Hein, TU Delft, architecture, Jan van Gemert, TU Delft, computer science, Victor de Boer, VU Amsterdam, computer science, Dirk Schubert, HCU Hamburg, architecture)

ArchiMediaL. Developing Post-Colonial Interpretations of Built Form through Heterogeneous Linked Digital Media

Funded by Volkswagen-Stiftung, 2017–2020

The availability of extensive digital media creates important new challenges. The World Wide Web offers huge amounts of image material, that opens up new avenues for innovative investigation, including in the field of post-colonial and global studies. However, between repositories, big data, Wikipedia or Flickr, the connections between materials are getting lost. Metadata have to be added painstakingly and manually into the system – otherwise numerous sources will remain unexplored and closed to research. This is where the Dutch-German project starts: In cooperation between historians of architecture and urban form and computer scientists the project aims to develop new tools for automatic building recognition of architectures and their parts as available in inherently diverse digital media (plans, photos, models, etc.) and on the web. The computer side includes image recognition, deep learning, computer vision research, actual 3D datasets. Three interconnected pilot studies will be carried out: Global Ports and Waterfronts; Colonial Architecture; Japanese Architecture.

Nele Noesselt

Configurations of Governance and Development Paths in the Studies of Chinese Political Scientists

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), 2014–2017

The internal policy debates of closed systems, such as the China (PRC), and the interplay between political leaders and political scientists are still an underresearched domain of Chinese politics. The analysis of Chinese politics is often restricted to the visible dimension of political actions and speech acts. The underlying considerations and reflections that shape the political decision-making process and guide political action are often neglected. The research project tries to overcome these lacunae by conducting a systematic analysis of Chinese political science debates on modes of governing and development paths of the PRC. Given the interrelation of political science and politics in the PRC, one could expect that these debates, first of all, fulfill a legitimating, confirmative function. However, a closer look at the current constellations shows that the Chinese political elites are well aware that reforms are necessary for the persistence and restabilization of the political system. Encouraged by the political authorities, Chinese political scientists have started to develop abstract ideas of political governance and economic development, which aim at a re-organization and (!) restabilization of one-party rule. They eclectically combine elements of Chinese traditions, observations of other political regimes and strategic calculations. Currently, the field of political science in China reminds one of hundred contending schools, it is no longer dominated by one single unified ideologically inspired research approach.The time frame under research can be subdivided into two periods: 2002–2012 (period in office of Hu Jintao) and 2012–2015 (the first years of the new administration). The project will identify the central themes and ideas that prevail in Chinese political science debates. Furthermore, it will investigate the factors and channels which catalyze the integration of these ideas into policymaking. Following a nested-design approach (Liebermann 2005), the analytical frame integrates elements of qualitative and quantitative analysis, process tracing and comparative approaches (Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis).The research project contributes to the basic understanding of modern Chinese political philosophy, the mechanisms of politics in contemporary China and learning processes of authoritarian regimes. It initiates a dialogue between Modern Chinese Studies and Political Science. The project has also implications for the sector of policy advice and political consultation: It outlines the central ideas of the political science debates that might guide and determine Chinese politics in the years to come. 238920157

Werner Pascha

Current Issues of the Political Economies of Japan and Korea: Comparative Research

Funded by the Bertelsmann Foundation, 2009–2018

Werner Pascha is contributing to projects of the Bertelsmann Foundation that promise stringent comparisons between various countries, based on a rigorous and detailed analytical framework. As for Japan, the framework is given by the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) project. It analyzes and compares the need for reform in OECD member countries, as well as their ability to respond to current social and political challenges. The project is designed to create a comprehensive data pool on government-related activities in the world’s developed, free-market democracies. With respect to South Korea, the framework is the Comparative Crisis Management project of Bertelsmann Foundation which intends to evaluate the capacities and abilities of the political management in selected developing and transition countries in response to the global financial and economic crisis. In 2014 it was agreed to continue with SGI reports until the 2018 report. Moreover, Werner Pascha was asked to contribute another report for the INCRA (International Non-Profit Credit Rating Agency) project of the Bertelsmann Foundation, Washington Office.

Werner Pascha

(with Frank Rövekamp)

Regional Financial Safety Nets in East Asia and Europe

2014–2017; funded by Bank of Korea during 2014–2015

The East Asia Institute of the Ludwigshafen University of Applied Sciences (Prof. Dr. Frank Rövekamp), in cooperation with the IN-EAST of University of Duisburg-Essen (Prof. Dr. Werner Pascha), is engaged in a research project on behalf of the Bank of Korea, the South Korean central bank, on institutional mechanisms to secure international financial safety. On a global level, the International Monetary Fund, based in Washington D.C., has the mandate to handle such issues. However, the recent financial crisis in the Euro area and the Asian financial crisis of 1997/98 have shown that there is a demand for regional safety mechanisms as well. In the EU, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) has emerged on this background, whereas East Asian economies have created the so-called Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI). The collaborative project with the Bank of Korea has the goal of developing ideas to improve the structure and processes of such regional initiatives further. The project shall lead to one or two joint publications with Frank Rövekamp.

Giulia Romano

The Appropriation and Adaptation of Citizen Participation in a Chinese City: A Step to “Democratic Deliberation”, an Instrument of Power Reassertion and/or Something Else?

Current research

Inspired by studies dedicated to citizen participation in European countries, this research project brings the focus to Chinese cities, which in the last decades have witnessed the introduction of several participatory instruments (allegedly) aiming at improving state-society relations, governmental transparency, and at gathering support and advices for the development of new policies and for the realization of urban projects. Observing these developments, this research project wishes to interrogate the meaning(s), purposes and uses of resident participation in a non-democratic context. The project in particular focuses on resident participation in urban renewal projects, investigating the framing, the practices, the instruments and the aims of the local administrations in the introduction of spaces for participation. It does so by trying to unearth the logics behind the adoption of resident participation, analyzing this instrument within the dynamics specific to bureaucratic and political action.

Helmut Schneider

Spatial Aspects of Vietnamese-Chinese Links and Relations in Past and Present

Current research

Vietnam and China have a long history of political, socioeconomic and cultural influence and interference as well as competition. This is true until the present day. Space is a medium through which these relations work (e.g. borders, frontiers, transborder cultural spaces, territoral claims). And those relations also have a spatial impact. The research aims at clarifying the role of space in Sino-Vietnamese relations in past and present.

Karen Shire

Principle Investigator

Cross-Border Temporary Agency Work: The Construction of Markets and Transnational Regulation in International Comparison

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG SH/82/5-1, 2013–2016

In the months of the project at the end of 2016 and thereafter activities focussed on publication preparations and conference presentation. Together with colleagues from the research group on cross-border labour markets in the Institute of Sociology, Karen Shire edited a book on the topic, and contributed a paper from this specific project. Together with colleagues in Sociology, and partners at the Ruhr University Bochum, the participants developed a new collaborative research proposal about transnational labour, which they anticipate submitting for funding in the next academic year.

The project team led by Karen Shire included researchers Dr. Chih-Chieh Wang, Hannelore Mottweiler, Markus Tünte, and in Japan, Associate Professor Dr. Jun Imai, Hokkaido Unviersity and Dr. Steffen Heinrich, DIJ Tokyo.

Karen Shire

(with Prof. Rainer Schnell)

SOEP Innovation Panel Module on Household Use of Personal and Household Services


A module about household employment practices in relation to the outsourcing personal and household services was accepted and included for the 2015 Innovation Panel of Socio-Economic Panel. In 2016 the data became available, and two publications are currently under submission. The results were presented in research groups at the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg in February 2017 and at the Conference of Europeanists in Glasgow in July 2017.

Karen Shire

Collaboration, Principle Investigator Prof. Mari Osawa, Director, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo

Gendering the Resilience to Disasters and Crises – Japan and Germany in Comparison

JSPS Grants-in-aid for Basic Research (A), 2016–2018

The participants presented preliminary research at the European Association of Japanese Studies meetings in Lisbon, August 29 – September 2, 2017.

Karen Shire

The Development of an Inter-regional Comparative Research Perspective on Changes in Labor Markets and Labor Migration in Japan and Germany

German Research Foundation (DFG) grant for the initiation of international cooperation, 2018–2020

The grant funds follow-up activities from a workshop, initiated by the DFG and organized on their behalf by Karen Shire and Verena Blechinger-Talcott (FU Berlin) in Tokyo, November 13–15, 2017 on Social Science Contributions to Contemporary Social and Political Changes in Germany and Japan. The follow-up research collaboration aims to deepen two dimensions of cooperation between German and Japanese sociologists. The first aim is to support the development of collaboration between major survey research programs designed for sociological research in both countries (especially the Japanese Life Course Panel Survey and the German SOEP survey, among other). This part of the program was completed earlier in 2019 and reported in Institute Report 26/2019. In the current reporting period the second aim of the grant, to work towards a joint research project, building on a theoretical perspective, which reframes migration as a cross-border labor market, and focusses on the social mobility of skilled as well as less skilled migrant labor was pursued.

In December 2019 a joint workshop of graduate students and young scholars researching migration in both regions was conducted in cooperation with Waseda ­University, Keio University and the University of Duisburg-Essen. This activity was aimed at discussing a research idea for a possible International Research Training Group. In February 2020 Prof. Hirohisa Takenoshita, Keio University, was guest professor at IN-EAST. His visit was used to engage in cooperation talks with the Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung in Nürnberg, the SOEP survey program researchers in Berlin, and with the Deutsches Zentrum für Integration- und Migrationsforschung (DeZIM) in Berlin to discuss research cooperation. A workshop was also held at the UDE with migration researchers, to exchange state of the arts with the idea of a broader cooperation (the workshop was joined by Helen Baykara-Krumme, Anja Weiss, ­Marcel ­Erlinghagen, Stephan Scheel, and their associated research assistants, as well as by IN-EAST scholar Florian Coulmas). A joint research workshop was planned with co-funding by both the Waseda University Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies and Keio University in March 2020 to finalize a program of comparative research on employment patterns of migrants in Germany and Japan. The workshop was canceled due to the pandemic. This event would have provided the opportunity to meet with key researchers at the Japan Institute of Labor, who have conducted surveys which can be matched to the IAB surveys. It would have also provided Karen Shire a chance to meet personally with the Deans and Research officers at Keio University, whose cooperation is needed for joint research programs. PI Karen Shire planned month-long research residency at the Waseda University Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies in March 2020 to work on joint research proposals, especially one for an international research training group. Again, this visit would have provided the essential opportunities to meet with the Dean of the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies and research officers, whose assent for a grant is necessary. Karen Shire was invited as a visiting fellow to the Graduate School for this purpose. Also, this activity was canceled due to the pandemic. With all travel canceled at the critical stage of negotiating with university officials and grant-writing with cooperation partners, we applied for an extension and rededication of the DFG funds to allow for Aimi Muranaka to coordinate and support grant-writing virtually from Duisburg. A proposal for joint research is now being prepared by Aimi Muranaka and Karen Shire with Prof. Hirohisa Takenoshita and Gracia Liu-Farrer. This has been enabled by an extension to the grant by the DFG until the end of December 2020 (due to disruptions in plans caused by the pandemic). While we will have completed the necessary preparation for submitting a grant on the German side, the actual submission of joint grants is postponed until travel and meetings in Tokyo are again possible.

Mahmood Shubbak

Advances in Solar Photovoltaics: Technology Review and Patent Trends

Current research

Climate change is the major challenge of the world according to the United Nation’s millennium project. In fact, the global average temperature has increased by 1 °C over the last century, with CO2 emissions resulted from fossil fuel combustion considered among the main causes. Scientists predict the continuous global warming to result in serious environmental and economic consequences on precipitation rates, droughts, growing crops, rivers’ flow rates, ice melting, and sea-level rising. To meet these challenges, renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaics are widely seen as clean alternatives. Recently, they have grown in both development and deployment. However, the economic feasibility, energy density, stable on-demand availability and technical challenges of integrating the intermittent renewable sources with standing power grids have long constituted key obstacles. Even so, mass production, government subsidies and innovation can interactively lead to the grid parity.

Innovations and inventions with high technological and economic values are usually protected through patent filings. Since patents act as a bridge between successful innovative activities and markets, the study of their indicators is vital to understand the technical situation and to evaluate the subsidizing policies. This research project introduces an exclusive definition of the technological system of photovoltaics and comprehensively reviews the recent advances in solar cell and balance of system technologies. It aims to accurately identify the relevant patent applications through a unique IPC inventory and to analyze their geographical, organizational and technically trends over the past six decades. Furthermore, the research highlights the roles of East Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea therein.

Mahmood Shubbak

The Technological System of Production and Innovation: The Case of Photovoltaic Technology in China

Current research

This research project studies the Chinese technological system of production and innovation in the field of photovoltaics (PV). It contributes to a better understanding of the emergence and development of the system by utilizing three levels of analysis: the institutional framework of the system, the market dynamics of production and deployment, and the composition of innovation-related activities. The analysis demonstrates the interrelated roles of transnational factors, local government policies, and research and development (R & D) activities undertaken by the main actors in shaping the system dynamics. It further studies the impact of such dynamics on the environment.

Tracking the relative position of China in the global PV manufacturing, installation and technological development, the analysis shows a gap between the growth of China’s market share and its modest share of transnational patent applications. This suggests a puzzle, which the research attempts to answer by inspecting the individual companies in the system against four aspects. First, the dynamic development of their size and performance. Second, the nature of their international involvement through foreign direct investment and mergers and acquisition deals. Third, their technological specialization within the PV value chain over time. Fourth, the spatial scope of their patenting protection endeavors.

The analysis recognizes four periods of system development driven jointly by market dynamics and government plans. It shows that the Chinese system is not isolated from the global PV system of production and innovation. The interactions and events occurring within the global system cast a shadow on the Chinese system dynamics. At some stages, they motivated production processes to very high levels. At other stages, they created external shocks that caused the industry to enter a down-cycle and resulted in structural change. Notably, thanks to successful government intervention, both positive and negative externalities have stimulated, in one way or another, the capability building and innovation activities in China.

Mahmood Shubbak

Technological Capabilities in China: Patterns of Specialization towards a Knowledge-Intensive Economy

Current research

This research project studies the evolution of technological capabilities in China since 1980 using patent indicators. The goal is to deepen our knowledge about the process of technological catching-up taking place in China and to identify processes of structural change towards a knowledge intensive economy.

Methodologically, the analysis differentiates between domestic technological capability pushing the technology frontier on the one hand, and domestic technological capability for technological development behind technology frontier (which triggers the adoption and improvement of technologies developed abroad) on the other hand. To capture domestic technological activities pushing the technology frontier we rely on transnational patent applications of domestic applicants. These patent filings reflect technological activities relevant for competitiveness in international markets. This international relevance of patent protection suggests that the technology protected pushes the technology frontier at a global level. To capture technological capability for technological development behind the technology frontier we use priority fillings. A priority filing is the first patent application filed to protect an invention, usually in a national patent office. The methodology was put forward to trace technological activities in developing countries and emerging economies.

To capture patterns of specialization and structural change, the research analyses specialization indicators over time, then it traces the dynamics of Chinese technological activities in different technological sectors. The assessment considers global trends in technological development and the position of China and other emerging and developed economies in a dynamic technological landscape.

Kei Takata

The “Newness” of “New New Social Movements” in Post-3/11 Movements in Japan

Current research

There is a proliferation of research in North America and Western Europe about the new social movements that arose after 2011, calling those worldwide simultaneous uprisings as “new global protest wave.” Yet, despite Japan that has also encountered mass protests from anti-nuclear, anti-racism to anti-security law movements after the 2011 Fukushima incident, their experience is often left out of the picture. In such an academic context, my project attempts to situate the Japanese case within a global debate and examine to what extent Japan comprises the “new global protest wave” and in what aspect do they deviate.

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