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China Research Group - Seminars

Forthcoming seminars

The Prevalence and the Increasing Significance of Guanxi

Presenter: Professor Yanjie Bian (Xian Jiaotong University)
Date and time: Friday 6 October (Friday) 2017, 11am-12:00pm
Venue: Room A18, Si Yuan Building, Jubilee Campus


This paper provides an analytical review of the social science literature on guanxi. The focus of this review is on the prevalence and the increasing significance of guanxi during China’s post-1978 reforms implemented to move to a market economy.

Since then, researchers have engaged in debates on what guanxi actually means to Chinese people in the past and at present, how it has been adaptive to ongoing institutional transformations, and why its influence in economic, social, and political spheres can be stabling, increasing, or decreasing along with market reforms and economic growth.

The author provides a synthesis of these debates before offering a theoretical framework within which to understand the dynamics of guanxi from the changing degrees of institutional uncertainty and market competition. Survey findings on the increases of guanxi usage in labor markets from 1978 to 2009 are presented to illustrate the usefulness of this framework.

In the conclusion, the author argues that guanxi is a five-level variable, and that the nature and forms of guanxi influence are contingent upon on whether guanxi is a tie of connectivity, a sentimental tie, a sentiment-derived instrumental tie, an instrumental-particular tie, or an obligational tie that facilitates power-money exchanges. This five-level conceptualization is aimed at advancing future guanxi scholarship in the fast-changing Chinese society.


Professor Yanjie Bian


Yanjie Bian is Professor of Sociology at University of Minnesota, USA. Concurrently, he is Director of the Institute for Empirical Social Science Research at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China. Dr. Bian is a co-founder (with Professor Li Lulu) of the Chinese General Social Survey, which is a public data archive available to domestic and international scholars.

Author of 13 books and more than 130 research articles on topics of China’s social stratification, social networks, and institutional change, Dr. Bian’s current projects include the development of the sociology of guanxi, a panel study about networks and jobs in Chinese cities, and East Asian social networks.

He was recognized as one of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Elsevier most-cited Chinese researchers in social science.



Past seminars

Science, technology, and innovation in China: Progress, problems, and prospect

Presenter: Professor Cong Cao (University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus)
Date and time: 11 May 2017, 12.30-2pm
Venue: Room A18, Si Yuan Building, Jubilee Campus


In this presentation we will review progress achieved at the front of science, technology, and innovation in China and identify main problems that may prevent China from fulfilling its ambition to become an innovation-oriented nation.

The presentation will also examine some recent reform initiatives and their implications for the trajectory of China's future pursuit of innovation.

Biography: Cong Cao, a scholar of social studies of science, technology, and innovation in China, holds a PhD in sociology from Columbia University and is now a professor of Chinese studies at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China.

He has published widely on China's scientific elite, human resources in science and technology, research and entrepreneurship in nanotechnology and biotechnology, reform of the science and technology system, among others.

His book on China's evolving policy pertaining to research and commercialization of agricultural biotechnology is forthcoming from Columbia University Press. His research has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, European Union, and other organisations.



Fiscal policy volatility and capital misallocation: Evidence from China

Presenter: Dr Sai Ding (Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow)
Date and time: 23 May 2017, 12.30-2pm
Venue: Room A18, Si Yuan Building, Jubilee Campus


Can a demand-side macroeconomic shock be a driver of capital misallocation in China? Using cross-province data, we find that fiscal policy volatility has a significantly positive impact on the dispersion of marginal revenue product of capital (MRPK). Factors relating to capital adjustment costs, financial frictions and policy distortions are found to play an important role in shaping the nexus between fiscal policy volatility and the static measure of capital misallocation, as reflected by the vast heterogeneity among provinces and industries.

We also find fiscal policy volatility and the dispersion of marginal revenue product of other inputs such as labour and intermediate material inputs are positively associated. A simple theoretical model is derived to show a new mechanism of this association with an emphasis on the role of endogenous input quality. Our empirical results are robust when potential endogeneity and mismeasurement problems are controlled for.

Biography: Dr Sai Ding is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Glasgow. She joined Economics at Glasgow in 2010, and was a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Oxford. She is a member of ESRC Peer Review College and a Research Assessor of Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

Her general research interests are in the area of economic growth and development, trade and productivity, corporate investment and finance, and the Chinese economy. She has published in decent economics journals like Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Oxford Economic Papers, Journal of Comparative Economics, Journal of Banking and Finance.

She got an ESRC research grant on a project of 'Understanding Enterprise Investment in China' in 2009. She also published a book titled by 'China's remarkable economic growth' in 2012 (jointly with Professor John Knight) by Oxford University Press.



Servitization in mergers and acquisitions: Manufacturing firms venturing from emerging markets into advanced economies

Presenter: Dr Yipeng Liu (Birmingham Business School)
Date: 9 March 2017
Venue: Room A18, Si Yuan Building, Jubilee Campus


We investigate servitization by manufacturing firms that have ventured from emerging markets into advanced economies through mergers and acquisitions (M & A). The study seeks to answer two questions: (a)What is the relationship between M& As and servitization in the case of manufacturing firms? and (b) What are the factors influencing the configuration of servitization strategies and their implementation?

Using qualitative research methods, we reveal a typology of servitization strategies - adding, utilizing, and reconfiguring - that underpin the combined influences of different levels of services of both acquirer and target firms in the M&A. We identify integration mode and absorptive capacity as factors influencing service capability development.

Biography: Yipeng Liu is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) and Director of Research in Department of Entrepreneurship and Local Economy at Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, UK, and faculty member at the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM).

He holds a doctorate in Management from Mannheim University, Germany, and obtained professional education and training on Harvard Participants-Centered Learning methods (HBS-PCL). His research interests center on the emerging market multinationals and international entrepreneurship from a cross-cultural and comparative perspective by embracing the notion of "West-Meets-East". His paper on Poetry and Leadership won the Inaugural Hermann and Marianne Straniak Stiftung – MOR Best Paper Award.

His work has been published in Human Resource Management, International Journal of Human Resource Management, International Business Review, Management and Organization Review, Management International Review, among others.

Dr. Liu has served as a guest editor for the special issues for leading management and organisation journals. He is on the editorial review board of Journal of Management Studies, and Management and Organization Review.



Does exporting affect financial leverages: Evidence from Chinese firms under exchange rate fluctuations?

Presenter: Dr Zhihong Yu (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)
Date: 23 February 2017
Venue: Room A18, Si Yuan Building, Jubilee Campus 


Using firm-specific exchange rate shocks induced by the depegging of Chinese Yuan from the USD in July 2005 , this paper tackles the causal impact of exports demand on firms' financial leverages employing  matched production-transaction firm level data from China.

We find that Increases in export demand induced by the exchange rate fluctuations does increase firms' total sales and factor inputs, but has no average effects on liquidity and leverage. However, for domestic exporters selling in countries with well-developed financial markets, increasing exports does reduce (increase) firms financial leverages (liquidity).

Our results may suggest that the underdevelopment of China's financial market could provide stronger incentives for private Chinese firms to focus on export markets to overcome financial constraints. 

Biography: Zhihong joined the School of Economics in December 2005 as a ESRC postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Leverhulme Centre for Research on Globalisation and Economic Policy (GEP) after completing his PhD at The University of Nottingham.

His first degree is mathematic, and major research interests are in international economics, industrial organisation, China and world economy.

He publishes in leading economics journals such as Journal of International Economics, Economic Theory, European Economic Review.



A lunch-time workshop on methods: for PhD researchers

Chair: Professor Lina Song
Date: 9th February 2016
Venue: Room A18, Si Yuan Building, Jubilee Campus


Sources of market disintegration in 18th century China

Presenter: Dr Markus Eberhard (School of Economics, University of Nottingham) [Joint work with Daniel Bernhofen, Jianan Li and Stephen Morgan]
Date: 14 November 2016
Venue: Room A18, Si Yuan Building, Jubilee Campus


In a number of empirical studies (Bernhofen, et al, 2016a, 2016b, 2016c) we use monthly grain price data for 18th and early 19th century China and Europe to revisit the question of market integration on the eve of the Industrial Revolution.

Using a range of empirical methods and specifications we find consistent evidence for a substantial decline in market integration over time: at the start of the reign of Emperor Qianlong China as a whole and especially its economically most advanced lower Yangtze region had levels of market integration comparable to those of late 18th century Britain and Belgium or early 19th century France. By the end of his reign, however, market decline was clearly in evidence and by the early 19th century we find that our statistical tests cannot reject that markets were fragmented, not just in remote regions of the empire, but also along the Yangtze and in the southern Lingnan region.

In the present study we attempt to find some support for a number of possible explanations for this decline, considering (i) increased population pressure, (ii) the decline in inland waterways navigation, (iii) the changing patterns in public granary provisions, reduced price sales, jieliu and other relief, (iv) the changing patterns in the private storage of grains, and (v) the impact of political border effects and grain protectionism. In each case we develop the arguments building on the rich literature on late Qing China and attempt some quantitative analysis to support or reject the claims contained.

Our findings suggests that at least population pressure and grain protectionism seem to display patterns in line with the observed secular deterioration in market integration, although the data at our disposal may prevent us from finding support for the other factors.

Biography: Markus joined the School of Economics in September 2011 as a Lecturer in Economics. Prior to coming to Nottingham he held an ESRC post-doctoral research fellowship at the Centre for the Study of African Economies in the Department of Economics at Oxford, where he also completed his Masters and PhD. His first degree was in Modern Chinese Studies and he has spent over three years studying and conducting research in China.

Markus has published widely and some of his work are published, among others, by The Review of Economics and Statistics, Oxford Economic Paper, World Development, Journal of Comparative Economics, World Bank Economic Review, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Economics Letters, Journal of International Economics, Journal of Economic Surveys.


Truth-telling in the midst of corruption

This seminar is jointly organised by China Research Group (CRG) and Centre for Research in the Behavioral Sciences (CRIBS).

Presenters: Dr Alessio Gaggero,  Dr Simon Appleton, and Professor Lina Song
Date: 7 December 2016
Venue: Si Yuan Building, Jubilee Campus


The aim of this study is to examine whether and to what extent being exposed to a corrupt environment may have an effect on truth-telling. We do this by means of two experimental games, conducted in Uganda and China.

First, we conducted an experimental game that mimics a situation of petty corruption, in which two parties, Private Citizens and Public Officials, exchanges bribes, and a third party of other members of the society, suffers a loss of income in case bribery occurs. Subsequently, we let the participants play the die-in-a-cup game to detect truth-telling behaviour. By means of these two experiments, we test whether playing the first game as the third party has any effect on subsequent truth-telling behaviour. 

Our results suggest that, both in Uganda and China, experimental subjects who played the bribery game as the third party were more likely to lie than their counter-part. We consider two alternative interpretations of these results: a "broken windows" explanation and an "idle hands" explanation.

Under the former, observing corruption may make people more likely themselves to behave in transgressive ways – just as criminologists observe that leaving one broken window in a property makes it more likely others will be broken. Under the alternative explanation, because the third party is passive in the corruption game, they may be more restless and willing to act mischievously – as the idiom says, the devil makes work for idle hands. Contrasting our findings from framed and unframed corruption games suggests a "broken windows" interpretation for Uganda and an "idle hands" explanation for China.



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