Individual Research Projects · Individuelle Forschungsprojekte


  • IN-EAST’s academics conduct numerous individual research projects and, in addition to participating in the Institute’s two large coordinated research programs, 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.
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.


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.

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.

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

(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), 2016–2019.

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 intends 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 departs from standard ways of considering political representation in the context of electoral and mandate claims (e.g. Pitkin). We argue 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 will address this conceptual gap.

In the five countries under scrutiny, we will identify different situations in which (seemingly) new representative claims are raised, criticized or justified. Proceeding through a carefully designed common methodological framework, our research will pursue the objective of analyzing developments of representative claims from a global, transnational perspective. To reach this objective we focus on two research fields. We analyze: (i) representative claims at the national level (national parliaments and media) raised during three national debates in each country; (ii) 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 will rest on qualitative methods for data collection and apply the adjusted Representative Claim Analysis for data analyses. To scale up our findings, we will follow the “case-thinking” approach, identify patterns of representative claims, develop a typology which can be applied for “terminological, classificatory and heuristic means’ (Weber 1921), and theorize the findings in the context of modern democratic theory.

The Duisburg team is responsible of the sub-project on China. It focuses on the following policy fields: (a) formal and informal patterns of representation and representative claims of private entrepreneurs, business organizations and formal and informal entrepreneurial networks; (b) formal and informal patterns of representation and representative claims in urban neighborhood communities; (c) new patterns of representation and representative claims by means of the Internet; (d) Chinese discourses, e. g. the “mass line” concept and patterns of “symbolic representation”.

Post-doctoral Research Fellow in this project is Dr. Anna Shpakovskaya.

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.

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 which currently link 16 Chinese cities with 12 cities in Europe and Asia. According to a recent development plan these railway lines will triple in the next few years. The paper tries to understand the implications of the prospect for a European city to open up a new railway link with China. The project tries to study the effects of the railway links on local economic development: including business, industry, FDI, tourism, and infrastructure.

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.

Tao Liu

with Anja Weiß

Travelling Knowledge: the Glocalization of Medical Professional Knowledge and Practice

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), 2018 – January 2021

The project contributes to globalization studies through an empirically ­grounded theory of the ways in which ­professional knowledge works across borders. Profes­sions are seen as a third and ­globalizing form of regulation besides market and state since they govern themselves heterarchically through peer recognition of professional knowledge.

The project uses professional knowledge and practice of physicians as a test case for globalization studies. Medical knowledge is likely to universalize since it is based on natural science evidence; many doctors are migrants and/or practice abroad, and the field has become more standardized. However, the national organization of health care and medical education, as well as the nature of the doctor-patient relationship, could also result in a boundedness of medical knowledge. We see medical knowledge both as universalizing through standard diffusion and as a situated response to socio-material problems, or, as Robertson (1992) suggests, as glocalized. Thus, we attempt to overcome clear-cut dichotomies between global and local, between universal and particular in the study of globalization. The empirical study will focus on the treatment of a single cardiological condition in order to connect a macrosocial analysis of standard setting through transnational professional associations with the microsocial observation of situated professional knowledge and practice in treating this disease. By studying the global actor constellation that disseminates treatment standards we will trace processes of standard setting and diffusion that go beyond national cardiologic associations. By observing the treatment of simulated patients in medical pedagogical settings the project analyzes the ways in which standards inform tacit knowledge in practice. Observations at four university hospitals (Essen, Beijing, Maastricht/NL, Hacettepe/TR) maximize social and geographic distance.

The project delivers foundational research in the sociology of globalization based on a multi-method comparative study. On the basis of multiple embedded comparisons the project will show whether and to what extent knowledge universalizes through standard diffusion, shared contention and mobility. It also develops a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which professional knowledge remains particular and/or locally bound due to e. g. divergent standards, particular national health systems, epistemic and language communities, and position in migratory networks. Applied results of the project will aid the internationalization of medical education and improve cooperation between physicians in internationalized settings.

Tao Liu

with Tobias ten Brink

Dynamics of Chinese Social Policy: Interplay of National and International Influences Subject Classification

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), 2018 – December 2021

Since the 1990s and especially since the mid-2000s, China has been implementing the largest social policy project in its history, subject to limited attention from the West. Although Chinese social policy is largely based on its own traditions, its emergence and expansion have been influenced by international interdependencies of various origins. The project’s central question is the following: How have these internal and external influences affected and shaped Chinese social policy and which mechanisms were involved? The period under review covers the years between 1990 and 2020.

The first phase of the project has two aims: Firstly, a comprehensive reconstruction of the developmental dynamics in the three important policy fields of old-age provision, healthcare and unemployment insurance will be conducted. Secondly, we will explain the different dynamics in these fields by identifying the interplay of international and national influencing factors that are responsible for the variance in spread, degree of inclusion and generosity. Here we will examine the mechanisms by which international interdependencies affect the national development of social policy, in particular the evolution of ideas and the choice of models and programmes. The project will combine insights from the literature on diffusion with institutionalist policy analysis. The case studies will be analysed using a method mix comprising process tracing and quantitative techniques. While we will collect data from Chinese databases and interviews with experts, we will also evaluate archive material and conduct a content analysis of secondary literature. Our findings should lead to a greater understanding of this case of an expansion of social policy under autocratic conditions, which is of particular interest for international comparisons.

In the second phase we will, among other questions, investigate whether the current reforms of the hukou system, which disadvantages the rural population, are leading to an alignment of rural and urban social security systems. We will also assess how internal and external factors interact in the recently locally tested long-term care insurance. In this context, we will take a comparative look at the East Asian region, since long-term care insurance has already been introduced (Japan, South Korea) or tested (Taiwan) there. Finally, we ask in a “South-South” perspective whether China’s social policy is a role model for other countries of the Global South.

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

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

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. In 2019, the German group again visited Daejeon, a center of governmental basic research institutes in Korea, and start-up areas near Seoul, while members of the Korean group visited the Duisburg and Düsseldorf areas again.

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.

Giulia Romano

The “Housing-for-Pension” Policy and “Community Governance”: 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.

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.

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

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 2018–2019 Sylvia Walby delivered the Keynote address at the 20th anniversary of the Essen College for Gender Research. Karen Shire and Sylvia Walby organized a workshop on Comparative Gender Regime research in June 2019, with following contributions: Karen Shire (Duisburg): The Transformation of Conservative Gender Regimes: Germany and Japan Compared, Valentine M. Moghadam (Boston): Gender Regimes in the Middle East and North Africa: The Power of Feminist Movements, Emanuela Lombardo (Madrid): Gender Regime Change in Decentralized States: The Case of Spain or Towards a Neoliberal Gender Regime? An analysis of multi-governed Spain, Jeff Hearn (Orebro): Lost in Translation: Theorising Gender Violence Regimes and Violence Regimes, Ece Kocabıçak (London): New Varieties of Domestic Patriarchy: Premodern and Modern Forms in Turkey, and Sylvia Walby (London): Theorising Gender Regimes. Karen Shire and Sylvia Walby are currently editing a special section of the journal Social Politics with contributions from this workshop. In August 2019 Karen Shire was resident at City, University of London to collaborate with Sylvia Walby on research about human trafficking, and in September 2019 Karen Shire delivered a talk at the expert meeting Concepts in Thinking about the Economic in Relation to Trafficking in Human Beings. Further workshops are planned in the coming years in Berlin and London.

Karen Shire

Outsourcing of Domestic Labour

Survey Module included in the GESIS Panel; 2017–2019

The survey module developed by Karen Shire and Rainer Schnell was included in the GESIS Panel in 2018, and after a very long wait for access to the data, analysis will commence in the autumn of 2019.

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, 2018–2019

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 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). In 2019 this part of the research program was furthered by the organization of a comparative workshop by Karen Shire and Aimi Muranaka together with Stefan Liebig, Director of the German SOEP survey program at the German Economic Institute (DIW) Berlin on May 21–22, 2019. Japanese participants included Prof. Hiroshi Ishida, Japanese Life Course Panel Survey and Institute of Social Sciences, University of Tokyo, Prof. Shin Arita, Institute of Social Sciences and University of Tokyo, and Hirohisa Takenoshita, Keio University, Tokyo. Follow-up activities include a guest research stay by Hirohisa Takenoshita in Duisburg in February 2020.

The second aim of this grant is 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. In 2019 this was furthered by the Guest Researcher visit of Gracia Liu-Farrer, Professor at the Waseda University Graduate School of Asia-­Pacific Studies, and joint research conducted by Karen Shire and Gracia Liu-Farrer during her stay on student migrant transitions into the German and Japanese labour markets. The results of this preliminary study are currently under submission and review at the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Further activities in the coming year include a doctoral student workshop in Duisburg in December 2019. Also planned is a workshop co-organized by Hirohisa Takenoshita, Keio University in Tokyo on empirical migration research in Germany and Japan.

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

Study Group convened by Clemence Ledoux (Université de Nantes)

The Politics of Fiscal Welfare Markets

Funded by Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg, 2016–2018

This study group, convened by Clemence Ledoux (Nantes) and funded by the HWK gathers leading European scholars on welfare state transformations. In addition to exchanging research, the group aims to develop a joint research project by 2018 on the role of tax credits and other fiscal mechanisms in shaping the “hidden welfare state” in Europe. See The group presented their work at the Conference of Europeanists in Glasgow, July 2017.

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

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

In 2016 the joint proposal with contributions from Karen Shire was accepted for funding by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF). In 2017 activities included preparations of five workshops planned during 2017–2018 and joint publications. During the next year, Karen Shire will be funded to spend several weeks every quarter at the ZiF to collaborate with the research group.

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

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.

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.

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.

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