Thought Leadership Briefs

HKUST IEMS Thought Leadership Briefs are published by the HKUST Institute for Emerging Markets to disseminate research results more effectively to business leaders, policy makers, the media, and the public. The briefs address important issues facing emerging markets and include policy recommendations.

If you wish to subscribe to the series and receive updates of our activities, please write to iems@ust.hk.

Understanding the Globally- Mobile, Young Consumers from the Emerging Markets

November 2017

Dr Wei-fen Chen, Post-doc Fellow at the Institute, offers insights on business strategy targeting young consumers in emerging markets in light of their social mobility experiences. This Brief discusses the identities and consumption habits of young consumers from China through their continuous interests in pursuing higher degrees overseas, which implies upward as well as outbound mobility.

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Expressways in China: Impacts on Growth and the Environment

September 2017

Guojun He, Faculty Associate of HKUST IEMS, explains why a single, unified economic or environmental policy may backfire, using the case of China’s national expressways. He found that while the cross-nation system was originally conceived as a unified economic policy, counties along the roads were affected very differently in terms of economic growth and pollution.

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China Cannot Finance the Belt and Road Alone

September 2017

Alicia Garcia-Herrero, HKUST IEMS Faculty Associate, thinks that the Belt and Road Initiative’s financial goals can be met by borrowing from international banks, in addition to Chinese ones. European banks, as already biggest lenders to the Belt and Road countries, could be encouraged to further help with financing OBOR’s projects since many of them are appealing for Europe. Meanwhile Hong Kong has an important role to play in the international financing of the Initiative.

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Do Corporate Taxes Hinder Innovation?

September 2017

Abhiroop Mukherjee and Alminas Zaldokas, HKUST IEMS Faculty Associates, examined how tax changes influence patenting activity in corporations, and found that tax increases would likely lead to lower innovation, but it would not be easy to reverse these losses quickly by cutting taxes back later.

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Upgrading the Workshop of the World: Can Automation Spur Economic Development in China?

June 2017

Naubahar Sharif
Naubahar Sharif, HKUST IEMS Faculty Associate, warns that automation is not the panacea for China’s stalling economic development as believed.

Industrial upgrading is central for the “Made in China 2025” economic plan, which hopes to push China up the global value chain into intelligent manufacturing. A pilot program, “Replacing Humans with Robots,” launched in 2009 in response to the global economic crisis. Yet results have been mixed. Prof Sharif recommends a deeper look into the micro- and macro-level effects of automation, to figure out how China can maintain its rate of growth while still developing its manufacturing expertise and the skills of its workforce. The study was conducted with postdoctoral fellow Yu Huang.

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China’s Belt and Road: Can Europe Expect Trade Gains?

December 2016

Alicia Garcia-Herrero
Alicia Garcia-Herrero, HKUST IEMS Faculty Associate and Chief Economist for the Asia Pacific at NATIXIS, asks how Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road initiative will affect EU trade.

The colossal infrastructure project is set to upturn trade relationships across Eurasia, yet the examination of its effects is still “embryonic”. Who will be the major winners and losers in trade? How would FTAs between China and OBOR nations affect the EU? In this latest IEMS Thought Leadership Brief, Prof García-Herrero makes the case for why it is time for the EU to actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. The study was conducted at Bruegel Research Institute with colleague Jianwei Xu.

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Industrial Policy and Comparative Advantage: When and Where Government Involvement Can Increase Social Welfare

September 2016

Yong Wang, Assistant Professor of Economics and Faculty Associates of HKUST IEMS, discussed how government involvement can make or break industrial development as well as social welfare. He pointed out that successful industrial policy should involve dynamic strategic adjustments and the promotion of a given industry in phases, rather than all-at-once. In particular, he cautioned that industrial upgrading may present a challenge to social stability in countries like China, where accelerated industrial upgrading may displace lower-skilled workers and reduces jobs.

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Digital Copyright Infringement in Emerging Markets: Countering Piracy through Smarter Search Engine De-listing

May 2016

HUI, Kai-Lung
HUI, Kai-Lung and
KWOK, James S.H.
KWOK, James S.H., Professor and Associate Professor in HKUST’s Information Systems, Business Statistics, and Operations (ISOM) Department, examine digital copyright infringement in developing economies, and propose 3 simple-yet-effective ways to combat copyright infringement through the use of search engine de-listing policies.
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China as the World’s Technology Leader in the 21st Century: Dream or Reality?

February 2016

SHARIF, Naubahar
SHARIF, Naubahar, Associate Professor of HKUST’s Social Science Division, describes China’s current technological prowess in terms of research and development (R&D) intensity, personnel, number of scientific publications, and number of patent applications, all of which indicate that China is currently one of the world’s top producers of high technology research, and is set to become the world’s technology leader before the end of the century.
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The Rise of Shadow Banking in China: The Political Economy of Modern Chinese State Capitalism

September 2015

TSAI, Kellee Sing
TSAI, Kellee Sing, Head & Chair Professor of HKUST’s Division of Social Science, explores China’s response to the 2008 global financial crisis, after which time Chinese enterprises both large and small have engaged in unprecedented levels of off-balance sheet activities, which are now estimated to account for an astounding 26-69% of China’s total GDP.
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Renminbi Internationalization: The Prospects of China’s Yuan as the Next Global Currency

June 2015

LAI, Edwin
LAI, Edwin, Professor of Economics at HKUST and IEMS Faculty Associate, analyzes the current and potential use of the renminbi (RMB) as an international currency, and measures that need to be taken before further internationalization can take place.
Watch Prof Lai explain the key takeaways from the Brief
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The Employment Gender Gap in Urban China: Why Women Benefited Less from China’s Privatization Reforms

May 2015

JENQ, Christina
JENQ, Christina, a post-doctoral researcher with HKUST IEMS and HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study, inspects the role of 1990’s era reforms to urban Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) on the widening gender imbalance in urban employment, with males accounting for a significantly larger share of urban employment than females.

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How Do Minimum Wage Policies Affect Workers in Emerging Markets?

April 2015

PARK, Albert
PARK, Albert, Director of HKUST IEMS, Chair Professor at HKUST’s Division of Social Science, and Professor of Economics, reviews the efficacy of minimum wage policies across BRICS countries–i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa–highlighting their success or lackthereof as related to critical factors such as labor market coverage, policy enforcement, minimum wage level as compared to mean wages, and others.
Watch Prof Park talk about the key takeaways of the brief
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Wage Discrimination in Urban China: How Hukou Status Affects Migrant Pay

March 2015

WU, Xiaogang
WU, Xiaogang , an HKUST Faculty Associate and Professor of Social Science at HKUST, investigates the earnings disadvantages faced by rural Chinese migrants in urban cities as compared to their local urban counterparts, and uses empirical evidence to conclude that such disadvantages are largely attributable to occupational segregation based on workers’ hukou (residency) status.
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Localizing Chinese Enterprises in Africa: from Myths to Policies

February 2015

SAUTMAN, Barry
SAUTMAN, Barry, HKUST IEMS Faculty Associate and political scientist at HKUST, discusses the myths about the extent of localization of Chinese enterprises in Africa. He also recommends how African governments can further encourage Chinese enterprises to further contribution to employment and development.
Watch Prof Sautman talk about key takeways of the brief
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Foreign Banks in Emerging Markets: Advantage or Impediment?

January 2015

GOPALAN, Sasidaran
GOPALAN, Sasidaran, HKUST IEMS Post-Doctoral Fellow, examines some of the multi-dimensional implications of foreign bank entry in emerging markets. Foreign banks have been growing in importance in several emerging market economies and they are expected to play systemically important roles moving forward.
Watch Dr Gopalan explain the key takeaways of the brief
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Helping Microfinance Fulfill its Promise: Raising Borrower Incomes through Agent-Intermediated Lending

October 2014

VISARIA, Sujata
VISARIA, Sujata, HKUST IEMS Faculty Associate and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics at HKUST, explores how microfinance programmes can be fine-tuned to more effectively address the microcredit promise of financial inclusion and helping the poor.
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Green Lifestyle Adoption: Shopping without Plastic Bags

August 2014

WANG, Wenbo
WANG, Wenbo, an IEMS Faculty Associate and Assistant Professor in the HKUST Department of Marketing, examines how people become green by studying a policy change in China which obligated consumers to purchase plastic bags rather than receive them for free.
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Innovate or Die: How Hong Kong-owned Manufacturing Firms in China Can Survive and Thrive

July 2014

SHARIF, Naubahar
SHARIF, Naubahar looks into the challenges facing Hong Kong-owned manufacturing firms in Guangdong, assesses the role of innovation in firm survival, and recommends areas for improvement to policymakers in both Hong Kong and Guangdong.
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