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Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2021)
Science and technology are an inherent part of political decision making in modern times. How do decision makers balance legitimacy, power and knowledge? Existing literature on the issue only focuses on liberal democracies and neglects authoritarian regimes in both theoretic and empirical investigations. In particular, it cannot answer how authoritarian regimes respond to challenges in governance, particularly ones rising from technically complex and uncertain policy fields such as biodiversity conservation and climate change. My research addresses this issue by investigating how scientifically complex international environmental norms are filtered through the systems of expert consultation and public contestation in an authoritarian political system. Drawing on 150 semi-structured interviews conducted between 2015-2019, my dissertation examines the policy processes in China’s nature conservation and biosafety regulation, and seeks to explain how the authoritarian state significantly strengthened biodiversity conservation in these two issue areas while the developmental and vested interests were stacked against them. Building on Jurgen Habermas’ three normative models, I first propose a typology of authoritarian policy decision-making at the science-politics interface, including authoritarian decisionist, technocratic, and public contested models. While all three models are present in China’s biodiversity governance, a “state-corporatist technocracy” model stands out as a more routine type of consultative decision making that often boils down to a bureaucratic-scientist alliance against environmental norms. I argue that two factors—the political salience and knowledge-based collective actors—are key to overcome this problem for the successful diffusion of environmental norms. In particular, I find that an emerging domestic epistemic community in protected areas and a knowledge-intense proxy civil society at the state-society nexus in biosafety regulation play critical roles in the norm contestation. Using a modified Multiple Stream Framework in the former and drawing on social movement theories in the latter, I identify how strategic trade concerns and changes in the party’s leadership raised the political salience, enabling the collective idea agency to shape policy.
This dissertation is composed of three papers analyzing the post-2009 financial sector regulatory reforms in the United States. All three papers use process tracing to perform qualitative analysis. Evidence for my analysis in part comes from contemporaneous media reports, congressional hearings, and speeches and memoirs of key participants. In addition, about 50 interviews were conducted in Fall 2018, mostly in Washington, D.C. The first paper asks why the reforms brought about only incremental rather than transformational change given the obvious failures of the pre-crisis structure and an angry public demanding change. I argue that the need to restore the confidence of institutional investors in bank securities limited the types of policies that policymakers were willing to consider. The next two papers focus on particular regulations that were stronger than expected given strong bank opposition: capital adequacy rules for U.S. globally systemically important banks (G-SIBs) and the Volcker Rule. The second paper argues that the U.S. policymakers adopted capital adequacy rules for large banks exceeding international standards because they believed they were necessary to make banks safer but, also, that they would not undermine their international competitiveness. This paper counters the claim that the globalization of financial markets prevents countries from adopting regulations that exceed international standards. My third paper examines the Volcker Rule, a signature part of the Dodd-Frank Act that prohibits banks from engaging in proprietary trading and severely restricts investments in hedge and private equity funds. I argue the Volcker Rule was adopted because proponents were able to exploit veto points in the policymaking process. The result is different from most of the existing literature on veto points, which show how they tend to inhibit policy change. The final two papers find that factors widely believed to limit policy change may do so only under certain conditions. Specifically, concerns about international competitiveness and the ability of policy opponents to use veto points to block policy change do not always prevent regulatory change from occurring.
The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.
How are global economic institutions transformed at times of power transition? Why have some international markets for important raw materials undergone fundamental change in the way they operate as a result of China’s emergence, while other such markets have been more resilient to change? The goal of this dissertation is to explain diverging global outcomes from the dramatic and contemporary expansion of China’s economy. By doing so, I shed new light on the political economy of global markets, why they operate the way they do now, and how they have evolved over time.I trace key variances in China’s effect on global markets to the interaction of Chinese domestic industrial structures and the pre-existing structures of global commodity markets. The structure of key industries within China varies: some are concentrated, some fragmented, some very sensitive to price signals, and others less so. Likewise, the structures of various global commodity markets varied significantly before China’s emergence as a dominant global consumer in the twenty-first century.I argue that transformations in market power relations between consumers and suppliers increase the likelihood of institutional change in global markets. Price trends influence market stakeholders’ preferences for global pricing regimes, but they cannot fully explain the direction of change. Market power – including the capacity to coordinate others and the capacity to extract rent – also motivates behaviour.Combining comparative case analysis of the iron ore, potash and uranium markets with careful process-tracing, I unveil the full picture, from domestic variables to international-level outcomes. I show the tremendous concentration of market power in global markets prior to China’s emergence; that China’s market power, despite its economic size, is in many ways weak; that some of the largest systemic changes have been the result of this Chinese position of weakness; and that China’s emergence has led to marketization, despite it being a state-led hybrid economy.This is a study of institutional resonance and complementarity between global markets and their systemically relevant consumers. More broadly, this dissertation seeks to contribute to ongoing debates about the systemic resilience of global market structures, and the domestic determinants of global economic power.
The degradation and collapse of the Earth’s ecosystems poses a formidable risk for humanity. Yet the effectiveness of political commitments to halt the irreversible loss of species and habitats remains critically low. The key challenge is to make the tough collective political decisions and then to follow through with real actions, despite often extreme resistance. What are the institutional mechanisms that can help increase the likelihood of the successful implementation of nature protection goals? Is decentralized, local-level governance more resilient in eventually meeting established nature protection goals than a centralized one? In attempting to answer these questions, this dissertation will rely on a qualitative analysis of nature protection policies carried out in New Zealand, Norway and British Columbia (Canada) between 1990 and 2012. In the final analysis the research will suggest the following. First, it appears that when dealing with protecting ecoregions defined by high opportunity costs, decentralized governance has very significant limitations that cannot be overcome without political coordination occurring at a higher-level. Among the most important factors for a meaningful adoption and gradual implementation is overcoming the initial discrepancy between the costs and benefits of conservation policies dividing the city and the countryside. A centralized governance offers distinct advantage in terms of bridging the divide between the countryside and the city and ensuring social partnership and cohesion between urban and rural populations over nature protection goals. Overall, resilient nature protection governance is likely to be centralized but one which allows the input of local stakeholders in both decision-making and especially at the stage of implementation. In addition, having open public access to land resources, including over privately owned lands, increases the likelihood of the implementation of conservation policies.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
This study examines how democracy and globalization and their interaction have shaped economic inequality in the emerging world. Previous studies offer conflicting theoretical expectations and mixed empirical evidence of the effects of globalization and democracy on economic inequality. Also, the nexus among democracy, globalization, and inequality in middle-income countries has received less attention than the same relationship in advanced industrial democracies. Conventional wisdom suggests that democracy creates more egalitarian society, whereas globalization is considered to be one of the common factors that resulted higher economic inequality.My study utilizes a mixed methods approach. I conduct cross-national time-series analyses as well as a case study on South Korea (hereafter, Korea). Surprisingly, contrary to the theoretical expectation, my quantitative analysis finds that democracy is not related to income inequality, regardless of whether a dichotomous or continues measure of democracy is used. However, globalization, as measured by trade openness and FDI, is strongly associated with increased income inequality. Finally, the Korean case suggests that domestic political variables such as government partisanship and party competition influence government efforts to reduce economic inequality, although democracy or democratization do not automatically produce a more egalitarian society. Evidence from the case study suggests that it could be the case that many middle-income countries do not have established left-right politics in the early stage of democratization, creating a situation in which the poor and middle class have limited political representation.
The current literature suggests that both domestic and international factors influence environmental policies. However, I argue that in China, domestic factors are more important than international factors in the process of domestic policy initiation and policy implementation. Domestic factors may also play a significant role in shaping policies that are driven by climate concerns. Process tracing is employed to reveal in what contexts domestic factors are more critical than international factors and why they are the real causes behind many environmental policies. Furthermore, I show that the concern of social instability may be the critical reason behind the initiation and implementation of China’s environmental policies. I use four distinct environmental policies in this article to bolster my argument. I also propose a conjoint experimental survey design which may help disintegrate the general concept of domestic and international factors and tell people which specific factor is more important in forming a new environmental policy and shaping the policy implementation. The finding of this paper bridges the gap in understanding the drivers behind China’s environmental policies and contributes to the theory building in environmental politics.
The establishment of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by China has raised many questions from global public. Most importantly, what are China’s motivations behind the decision of the AIIB? And why does multilateralism become a favored approach in China’s international development finance? Contrary to existing explanations which mainly focus on China’s strategic and geopolitical ambitions, this thesis provides a functionalist and pragmatic perspective: the economic rise of China has enabled the communist state to become a major sovereign creditor in international finance landscape in recent years. However, this new position in global financial system also brings China many structural challenges faced by other similar sovereign creditors, namely management of various lending risk and private fund leverage. To safeguard its valuable financial resources, China turns to multilateralism and multilateral institutions such as the AIIB, because they could be utilized as reliable and effective financial vehicles to help sovereign creditors like China in collecting information, hedging credibility problem, sharing burden and risk with others, as well as tapping private capital to supplement its financing goals.
China’s RMB has been making quiet march onto the world stage, first into focus in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, and notably gathering pace after 2012. By examining the seeming puzzle of why RMB internationalization, after a long albeit methodical trudge, accelerated after 2012, this paper seeks to offer a theory that could explain the motivations behind China’s pursuit of RMB internationalization. I argue that the existing approaches to this question, which primarily looks to the traditional economic factors such as relative national economic fundamentals, cost/benefit of currency internationalization, and impact of external shocks, fall short of explaining the timing, pace and trajectory of the RMB internationalization process. I maintain instead that the source of the dynamics driving RMB internationalization should be located in the structure of political decision making and political imperatives of the key players in the decision making process. This paper contends that RMB internationalization should above all be viewed in the broad context of China’s next round of reforms that centers on liberalizing the financial sector and developing the capital markets. Putting Chinese political decision making in the perspective of fragmented authoritarianism, this paper argues that with the balance of power of interest group coalitions favoring status quo or change in a deadlock, a lever is needed to break the stalemate and tip the balance toward reforms. Recognizing the need for financial reforms as China increasingly reaches the limit of its export-led growth model, political entrepreneurs at PBOC, under the personal leadership of Governor Zhou Xiaochuan and buttressed by the superior institutional resources and capacity, promoted RMB internationalization as the key lever to redistribute incentives and realign underlying coalitions. Capitalizing on favorable changes at the party’s top taking place post the power transition, which brought about a degree of centralization of the financial policy decision making that wasn’t available previously, Zhou Xiaochuan and his fellow political entrepreneurs were able to push forward RMB internationalization more effectively that both exposed the need for further financial sector reforms and generated broader support to tip the balance of power toward reforms.
As the world’s largest GHG emitter, China’s climate governance no doubt matters for the future of global climate governance. Since 2007, China has improved its domestic climate governance through progressive policy measures and institutional building, at both national and local levels. In recent years, China has also been proactive in the multilateral and bilateral climate negotiations. Under the UNFCCC framework, China’s contribution to the success of 2015 Paris Agreement negotiation is undeniable. Prior to the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit, China announced its ratification of the Paris agreement and further placed more focus on climate issues in Hangzhou summit. Bilaterally, the China-US Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change in 2014 and 2015 showcases China’s political commitment to address climate change. Acknowledging China’s active climate actions, my research question asks: how do we explain China’s progressive climate governance in recent years? What are the driving forces behind China’s climate actions? The theory of norm localization proposed by Dr. Amitav Acharya stresses the agency role of local actors in norm diffusion, which opens research space for investigating the causal relationships between China’s domestic political economy and its progressive climate actions in recent years. This thesis argues that, China’s progressive climate governance can be explained by its strategic localization of climate change based on its need of energy security and economic transition. China has strategically utilized climate change as a normative platform to facilitate and legitimize its comprehensive transformation into low-carbon economy. In this process, the central governmental agencies play a dominant role in framing and merging climate governance with China’s new development agendas. Overall, behind the Chinese philosophy, climate governance is what China should do, but China takes actions in a strategic way to align with its national interests, politically and economically.
In the 2000s and 2010s, there is an influential phenomenon called “state advance and private retreat” in China’s SOE reforms in strategic industries related to the production and processing of petroleum, ferrous metals, tobacco and telecommunication. Although some indicators have shown SOEs’ decreasing proportions in these industries, considering SOEs’ paid- in capital and assets, the tide of state advance and private retreat does exist in the strategic industries.There are four variables influencing state advance and private retreat. For interest groups, the government-SOEs relationship cannot explain the existence of state advance and private retreat in the 2000s and 2010s since this relationship also existed before the 2000s. As SOEs’ strong representative in policy-making process, the SASAC has greatly contributed to SOEs’ march in the market after its establishment in 2003, while at the same time, private enterprises do not have enough access to policy making process. For political elites, differences between Jiang- Zhu leadership and Hu-Wen leadership are one of the causes. As for institutional factors, both the fiscal and financial systems have increased SOEs’ advantages in market competitions. For influential event, “Lang Whirlwind”, China’s accession to the WTO, and the 2008 financial crisis in the 2000s all greatly contributed to the emergence of state advance and private retreat.
The spread of Bilateral Investment Treaties in the past decades, as a popular way to promote and protect foreign direct investment between countries, is no doubt a vivid example that displays the triumph of globalization and the diffusion of liberalization. By the end of 2013, most countries of the world have participated and signed 2,857 such treaties (UNCTAD, 2013). China, among them, is definitely a latecomer and a distinct player. Until 1982, which is 23 years later than Germany’s first treaty with Pakistan, China started its BIT program, and soon has become the world’s second largest contract party. As of its particularity, from the very beginning, China became one of the few developing economies (BRICS states in particular) that were able to sign treaties favoring their own economic interests and sovereignty; soon after, China is also the first and the only country among them that chose to abolish such privileges and started its new, liberalized practice. Stemming from China’s unique development trajectory, my research question asks: what has motivated Chinese government to make such unprecedented change? What was the rationale behind this behavior so distinct from other BRIC countries? The emerging causal narrative comes from Steve Vogel’s theory of “asymmetric regulation” in competitive markets, with the analysis of the specific domestic political and economic constraints within China. This paper argues that China’s new, liberalized practice in BITs is first a policy outcome to increase the international competitiveness of the national industry; more than that, it is also an instrumental liberalization effort made by the central government to strengthen the political control over the locals and to re-shape China’s understanding of the international order, especially the South-South cooperation.
The global financial crisis has provoked a robust debate in international political economy literature. Existing studies afford readers with a thorough analysis of the impacts of neoliberalism and market fundamentalism, both of which are regarded as determinants of economic and political volatility. These studies identify a relationship between financialization and volatility that is encouraging as it permits for a more qualitative assessment of global phenomena, therefore facilitating a greater understanding of country-level experiences of the global financial crisis, of which there exists substantial and puzzling variation. Iceland’s financial crisis is an example of this variation.Though Iceland’s financial liberalization occurred during an era of unprecedented international financialization, this does not explain why Iceland’s government prohibited foreign competition, nor does it explain the rapid, astronomical growth of Iceland’s banking sector between 2002 and 2008. Furthermore, Iceland’s refusal and subsequent inability to honor foreign debt obligations represents a new development that merits addition consideration. These discrepancies provoke a number of questions regarding the impact that Iceland’s institutional structure has on domestic and international developments, such as the liberalization of its financial sector and the financialization of the global economy. This suggests not that Iceland’s financial crisis is a purely domestic phenomenon, but rather that domestic institutions played a unique role in exacerbating the impact of neoliberalism and market fundamentalism.I develop a conceptual framework informed by Mancur Olson’s theory of ‘institutional sclerosis’ to reveal the institutions that pre-dated Iceland’s financial collapse and argue that Iceland’s corporatist structure is conducive to capture, resulting in a disproportionately overextended banking sector. In addition, I summarize the events of Iceland’s debt negotiations to provide a more comprehensive understanding of what influenced Iceland’s politicians to provide continued support for honoring foreign debt obligations despite a clear ‘no’ mandate afforded by Icelanders in both referendums, as well as why Iceland honored foreign debt obligations altogether, allowing for proper conclusions to be drawn about Iceland’s recovery model and its implications for existing theories in the fields of international political economy and global governance.
China is rising and playing an increasing important role in both regional and international affairs. As for China’s attitude toward international order, this thesis argues that since 1992 China has been gradually shifting its attitude towards international order from general delegitimization to selective embeddedness by using political discourse analysis and fuzzy-set analysis methods. Why has China become less critical of the international order in the past few years but in 1990s China severely criticized it? In terms of the relationship between China and the West, why does China cooperate with the West in some areas while fighting with it in others? This paper proposes an identity-attitude model to explain these puzzles. It argues that China’s attitudinal change is caused by the change of China’s identity. China cooperates with the West only when China perceives itself as the beneficiary of the international order.
Under the Meiji Constitution, a political system designed to create an institutional framework that allowed for the sustained oligarchic rule of the Meiji Genrō, Japan experienced multiple crises generated by popular upheaval against the government during the interwar years. One was an economic crisis in 1918 triggered by Japan’s participation in the First World War which generated an unprecedented level of popular protests in the form of nation-wide riots and some strikes. Known as the Rice Riots, this crisis threatened to unleash a confrontation of the Meiji Genrō by political parties holding seats in the Diet who sought to establish party-led cabinets. A second crisis occurred in 1936 when 1400 soldiers of the Imperial Army stationed in Tokyo occupied government buildings and assassinated several high-ranking government officials in an attempt to set up a an all-military cabinet. While both party-politicians and military officers had further expanded their influence over the policy-process after these crises neither set of actors suspended, revised or replaced the Meiji Constitutional system. It is the purpose of this thesis to explore the reason why the Imperial Japanese polity was not structurally altered as a result of power change that accompanied the Rice Riots and the 1936 Incident. This essay makes two arguments about the Meiji Constitutional system’s sustainability during the prewar years. First, it argues that the Meiji Constitutional system due to institutional design and elite political culture functioned in practice as an oligarchic state. Second, it argues that the reason the Meiji Constitution was never revised, suspended or discarded during the course of regime change was because political parties and high ranking military officers ended up using the same strategies as the Meiji Genrō to successfully maneuver the institutional structure of the policy-process. Hence, in the process of learning how to master the institutional dynamics of the political system, they eventually overcame legislative deadlock and in the process stabilized the oligarchic state without having to reform it in order to expand their power within it.
Hong Kong is a half-authoritarian and half-democratic metropolis whose citizens enjoy full civil liberties. Deliberation is not usually expected in an authoritarian regime; however, the Hong Kong case shows that authoritarian deliberation is possible, although limited. There are two key questions that this thesis explores. The first one is whether or not the model of authoritarian deliberation is possible. The second one is why did the semi-authoritarian Hong Kong government choose to allow full deliberative processes in some issue areas? What can we draw from the unique HK deliberative practices? By examining the emerging deliberation initiatives in Hong Kong on both the macro and micro levels, this paper figures out two mechanisms for Hong Kong deliberation, one with the Advisory Group acting as a bridge between the government and the public. It is a model that can be learnt by mainland China about how to initiate and conduct effective deliberation at the metropolitan level. This thesis argues that deliberation in a context of an existing strong civil society and civil liberties like in Hong Kong is probably irreversible. The deliberative process in Hong Kong is successful in granting legitimacy to some policy outcomes, but probably not to the regime itself. However, no deliberation in the policy-making process may cause a legitimacy crisis for the regime.
Developing countries are increasingly adopting agricultural biotechnologies to meet domestic objectives of food security, industrialization, increasing commodity exports, and international competitiveness. Yet, developing country policies lack coherence and are often conflicting and contradictory. Prevalent theories on the adoption of such technologies focus on trade relationships, regime membership, institutional capacity, consumer and producer acceptance, and environmental concerns. This thesis argues there is a need to move beyond static or uni-causal explanations. It proposes a framework that incorporates notions of symbolic politics as essential components. Incoherent national policies reflect national objectives and international constraints, as well as the concerns of society as expressed through resistance campaigns. The latter seek to influence national policies by framing GMOs in relation to broader societal concerns. By organizing resistance around a specific resource or symbol associated with conceptualizations of culture, identity, and autonomy, such movements are able to alter the meanings associated with GM crops. Thus, it is through the mobilization of symbolic politics that organized opposition is able to succeed in influencing national legislation in areas dominated by trade concerns, material interests, and power politics. This argument is explored though a narrative analysis of policy development in Mexico. Despite its history of promoting biotechnologies, it has not yet introduced GM maize due to effective resistance, as maize is a powerful symbol throughout the nation. This thesis also briefly considers the cases of Brazil and India as useful contrast cases that allow us to draw larger implications.
The study of elections in authoritarian states has predominantly focused on whether elections help sustain or undercut the regime. Elections can either placate or embolden the opposition. However in the context of single party Leninist states, elections play a different role. Given that the Vietnamese Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party have a monopoly of power in the political arena and tremendous control over society, there is no significant opposition force. Yet the two states hold elections. Furthermore, despite the two country’s similar trajectories of political and economic reform, both states undertake semi-competitive elections differently. China chooses to maintain a relatively closed system at the top, while creating a dynamic and competitive system at the local level; while Vietnam opts for a more open system at the top and keeps electoral institutions closed at the local level. This paper raises several questions; 1) why do Single Party Leninist States hold elections? 2) What is the significance of holding national versus sub-national elections? 3) why do China and Vietnam hold different types of elections given their similar regime-type? I propose an endogenous story to explain the varied outcomes in electoral institutions in China and Vietnam. Authoritarian elections and election-types are an institutional choice and a function of how the regime is constrained by elite pluralism. Comparing Vietnam and China and how they liberalize and cede power to institutions at different levels, demonstrates how elite divide shape the type of elections undertaken.
Content control and censorship on the Internet are increasingly important topics for scholars of democratization, media and communications. Most studies have examined the relationship between the Internet, content management and various elements important to democratization such as the formation of civil society organizations. This thesis attempts to expand this discussion by examining the effects of online content management on economic systems, using the People's Republic of China as an example. China features a globally integrated economy that is increasing dependent on manufacturing and services while simultaneously maintaining one of the most extensive online content management systems in the world. This paper attempts to show how the Communist Party of China is able to reconcile the need for connectivity in order to drive their economy while maintaining political control. It also discusses the long-term implications of this strategy. The first section consists of a series of quantitative and qualitative tests to determine how various classes of websites are managed. These tests reveal that in order to maintain the flow of information necessary for a globally integrated economy, the Chinese Communist Party utilizes strategies that manage but not block the information flows related to business. This survey is followed by a case study examining the relationship between Google and China, and the implications of Chinese regulation and control for the broader economy. The results indicate that the Chinese regulatory strategy, which is designed to meet political goals, is creating a divergent technology industry that caters to the party's needs. This development may have serious implications for the future of the Chinese globalization effort as it poses a threat to interoperability and exchange between Chinese online presences and those in the rest of the world.