Research at Risk and East Asia


The Research Idea

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

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

The Four Sub-Themes

The sub-themes of the research program drew on the comparative methodology of Charles Tilly to focus on four “large processes” of change (Marketization / Market Transformation, Individualization / Social Organizations, Decentralization / Central-Local Interaction and Transnationalization). We argued that such change processes shift institutional logics. Moreover, evidence of differences and similarities in how these processes impact changes within East Asia provided new insights into the interrelatedness of global, inter-regional and national institutional changes. The four “large processes” are universal processes driving “risk shifts”, which, in the spirit of Tilly’s comparative methodology, play out in the context of specific regional, national and local institutional constellations, preferences and beliefs about which players ultimately bear responsibility for risks. Questions concerning the nature of shifts and the players involved were explored through systematic empirical and comparative analysis in a series of doctoral and postdoctoral research projects proposed for the research training group on Risk and East Asia.

Research projects in each of the sub-themes focused on emerging institutional constellations (in contrast to the adaptation of established institutions) and both formal and informal institutional dimensions, the latter being of particular importance in the East Asian regional context, yet often neglected by European theories and research about institutional change.

Sub-Theme ‘Marketization’ / ‘Market Transformations’

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

  • Sunkung Choi
    Individual Risk Propensity in a Group Situation; A Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Steffen Heinrich
    The Political Consequences of Expanding Non-regular Labour. New Employment Risks and Partisan Politics in Japan and Beyond
  • Dr. Sven Horak
    Automotive Manufacturer and Supplier Relationships in Japan. Do Cultural Factors Play a Role in Shaping the Relationship?
  • Hanno Jentzsch
    Village Institutions and the Agricultural Reform Process in Japan
  • Prof. Dr. Yuan Li
    Political Economy of Public Goods Provision in China
  • Stenya Melnikova
    Corporate Governance of Chinese National Oil Companies within the Model of Multiple Principals – One Agent
  • Ann-Kathrin Prior
    New Types of Financial Institutions in China
  • Dung Vu
    Essays in Experimental Economics
  • Mei Yu
    Transforming Pairing Institutions for Poverty Alleviation: Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility in Fugu County, China
Sub-Theme 'Individualization’ / ‘Social Organizations'

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

  • Stephanie Bräuer
    Women Social Organizations in the People´s Republic of China (PRC): New Forms to Initiate Political Change? A case study of anti-domestic violence (ADV) organizations in Beijing
  • Magnus Dau
    Social Media as a Deliberative Arena: the Case of Environmental Protection Bureaus in China
  • Vitali Heidt
    Social Risks of Aging: Livelihood, Institutional Dependence, and Exclusion of the Japanese Elderly
  • Alison Lamont
    The Societal Impacts of the Wenchuan Earthquake: Normalizing after a Catastrophic Disaster
  • Iva Ognjanovic
    Organizational Commitment of Young People Working in a Foreign Company in China: Morality and Class Habitus
Sub-Theme ‘Decentralization’ / ‘Central-Local Interaction’

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

  • Ting Huang
    Developing Rural Old-Age Pensions: Local Government and Policy Experimentation
  • Susanne Löhr
    The Impact of Vertical Competition on China’s Sub-Provincial Arrangements: The Reform of Direct Provincial Administration of Counties
  • Armin Müller
    Systemic Interdependence between Health Insurance and the Hukou System in the PRC
  • Hans-Christian Schnack
    The Making of Minority Language Policies in Chinese Schools. Street-level bureaucracy and Curriculum Decisions in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China
  • Anna Shpakovskaya
    Government Non-Profit Relationships in the Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Reconstruction in China
Sub-Theme ‘Transnationalization’ 

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

  • Kai Duttle
    A Behavioral Finance Perspective on Momentum. Comparative Experimental Studies in Germany and Japan
  • Martin Heinberg
    Analysis of Chinese Consumer Behavior: Value Propositions and Perceptions. Determining Purchasing Decisions with Respect to Foreign and Local Consumer Good Brands
  • Melanie Kogler
    Risks and Responsibilities – Human Security and Japan’s Ban on Landmines and Cluster Munitions as Field of Activity for Non-state Actors
  • Dr. Kerstin Lukner
    The Governance of Pandemic Risks in Asia
  • Dr. Chih-Chieh Wang
    Labor Market Institutions and Social and Economic Risk-Shifting in Taiwan

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