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2011-2012 USCI Graduate Summer Fieldwork Grants

USCI awards grants to USC graduate students to carry out summer fieldwork research.

September 29, 2011

Graduate Summer Fieldwork Abstracts

Chin-Hao Huang (Department of Political Science & School of International Relations)
“Assessing the Role of Foreign Policy Elites in China: Impact on Chinese Foreign Policy Formulation”

China’s foreign policy is increasingly shaped by foreign policy elites—experts from universities, research organizations, businesses, and military academies—who operate at the margins of the traditional centralized confines of the Chinese Communist Party and government apparatus. Yet given China’s growing impact on global affairs, it is remarkable how little we know about this change in Chinese foreign policy formulation. More specifically, there remains a dearth of sound analysis on the reasons, processes, and conditions behind this emergent trend. This project examines a basic puzzle: if the formulation of Chinese foreign policy is becoming more inclusive and receptive to ideas and interests originating from outside the traditional party-state apparatus, why, how, and when do these foreign policy elites play a role in shaping official decision-making? Doing so will allow us to better understand the role of epistemic communities in one-party authoritarian states. Through research interviews with policy elites in Beijing and Washington, D.C. and a thorough analysis of the relevant Chinese commentaries on foreign and security policy issues, this project develops informed insights and recommendations for the U.S. policy community in engaging more successfully with an increasingly influential China in the future. Click here for the full report.

Peter Knaack (Department of Political Science & School of International Relations)
“China’s Role in the Negotiations Surrounding the Global Financial Architecture in the Wake of the 2008/09 Financial Crisis”

China’s rise as an economic powerhouse has been amply documented and analyzed, but we have little information as to how Chinese leaders use its economic prowess in the policy circles of global economic governance. The purpose of my research is to investigate how Chinese leaders view the current global economic landscape, and what role they see for China as an actor in the international institutions that regulate the world economy. In particular, I would like to focus on China’s role in the current negotiations surrounding the global financial architecture in the wake of the 2008/9 crisis. Through archival work and interviews with leading experts in Beijing this summer I would like to lay the groundwork for my future dissertation about the G-20, global financial regulatory reform, and China’s role in this process. Click here for the full report.

Jessica Liao (Department of Political Science & School of International Relations)
“WTO Trade Dispute between China and the United States: The Political Logic of International Litigation in Comparison”
世贸组织中美贸易争端: 国际诉讼的政治逻辑之比较

The Sino-US trade dispute has expanded rapidly as China increases its economic power. The methods of dealing with this tension however, are shifting  from bilateral negotiations into the international judicial system, especially since China's entry into the WTO. While many claim that the growing power of the dispute settlement body (DSB) signifies the norm/rule-compliance   of  national  governments,  others  view  it  as  a  result  of  government's strategic moves to preserve their political and economic interests. Since it is the government that has legal rights under the DSB, it is essential  to understand  how government  decides to utilize international litigation on behalf of affected industries. My research aims to examine 13 litigation cases between China and the United States and to explain how the Chinese government utilizes litigation as a tactics  to leverage its external  bargaining power  and as a means  to enhance its political credibility in the eyes of critical industries.  Click here for the full report.

Shaoling Ma (Comparative Literature)
“A Difference of Worlds: A Comparative Study of Turn-of-the-Century American and Chinese Utopian Fiction”

The strategic partnership between China and Africa has become increasingly institutionalized, encompassing a broadening range of political, economic, and military ties. However, there remains a dearth of well-grounded analysis on the remarkable scope and scale of this relationship, which inherently carries significant implications for U.S. interests in Africa, as well as for U.S.-China relations. Given these high stakes, the overarching goal of this proposal is to gain greater insights into the key detenninants that undergird China's evolving foreign policy approach in Africa, and their implications for the United States. Through research interviews with policy elites in Beijing and Washington and a thorough analysis of the relevant emergent Chinese commentaries on China-Africa relations, this project will fill in the existing knowledge gap and provide a more authoritative foundation from which to build a policy response that more effectively manages China's rising power on the one band and contribute to a more constructive trilateral relationship on the other. Click here for the full report.

Weijie Wang (School of Policy, Planning, and Development)
“The Rise of Homeowners’ Associations and Changing Neighborhood Governance in Urban China”

The  newly-emerging  and  self-governing  Homeowners’ Associations  (HOAs) represent the participation of citizens in neighborhood and urban affairs and may have important implications to the emergence of civil society in China. The objective of this research is to study how HOAs influence neighborhood governance in urban China. It will analyze the power relations between different players in the new structure  of  neighborhood  governance,  and  pay  special  attention  to  how  HOAs manage these relations and their environments in order to better achieve goals. The research will focus on selected cases in Beijing and main research methods include participant observations and interviews. This study may deepen our understanding of rapidly-changing Chinese society by focusing on its basic social unit – neighborhood. It may also further the research on HOAs which are civic organizations operating in an authoritarian state by observing it from an organization-environment perspective. Click here for the full report.

Jin Wang (Department of Economics)
“The Role of Sellers’ Reputation in China’s C2C Market: Theory and Evidence from Taobao”

The online consumer-to-consumer (C2C) market has grown quickly in China over the past couple decades. The total transaction value has exceeded 40 billion Yuan. However, so far there has been little research on the Chinese C2C market. In this study, we will focus on Taobao, the largest C2C platform in China. Many of the transactions in Taobao are done through anonymous auctions. In these auctions, buyers know little about sellers and quality of goods, but buyers can observe sellers’ reputation that is built from the feedbacks given by previous buyers. Sellers’ reputation could influence buyers’ judgment about sellers’ honesty and quality of goods, and therefore affect buyers’ participation and bidding prices. In this research, we will study the effect of sellers’ reputation on bids and prices in Taobao. First, we will propose a basic theoretical model to illustrate how sellers’ reputation influences bidding amount and biding prices. In the empirical part of this study, we will test a series of implications derived from the theoretical model based on the data provided by Taobao. Click here for the full report.

Ling Xu (School of Social Work)
“Determinants of Healthy Aging for Older Adults in China”

With China and the United States facing similar aging trends, having research based cross-national information on healthy aging for Chinese and U.S. older adults could be valuable to both nations and have a positive impact on the U.S. – China relationship. Previous studies have identified multidimensional factors contributing to healthy aging in U.S. by using available national dataset. However, this kind of dataset does not exist in China. Whether results from existing empirical studies about determinants of healthy aging will hold in China is questionable. During my proposed summer fieldwork, I will collaborate with researchers in China to collect data from a national representative longitudinal study on healthy aging among older adults in China. During this period I will also visit a national research centre to search and examine relevant state policy documents on aging. Planned outcomes from these activities include future empirical research using the collected longitudinal dataset and carrying out cross-national comparative studies between China and the U.S. Click here for the full report.

Haojun, Yu (Department of Economics)
“Unraveling the Success of e-commerce in China: an Empirical Study of Alibaba”
解析中国电子商务成功之谜: 一项对阿里巴巴的个案分析

With prevalence of Internet access, e-commerce in China has witnessed a boom in last decade. Alibaba, a leading e-commerce known as China’s eBay, has experienced a fast growth since its founding in 1999. Alibaba works as a platform for small manufactures to sell their wares. It introduced a series of supporting programs, including credit rating, Alipay (an innovative payment tool), Aliwangwang (an instant messenger tool), etc. to facilitate transaction, thus enforcing its leadership. This project investigates how Alibaba’s support programs help to build basic trust that is vital for on-line transaction, especially in a society lacking individual credit. Alibaba’s research center generously provides background information and data support, which makes the research possible. By working in Alibaba research group, I can have better access to data and efficient communication. I believe a better understanding of China’s e-commerce also provides guidance to US firms operating in China or seeking to expand their business. Click here for the full report.

View reports of USCI Graduate Summer Fieldwork Grant receipients from other years.
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