(852) 2358 7782
Office Room 3380

Kellee S. Tsai


IEMS Research Areas


Prior to joining HKUST, Professor Tsai was Vice Dean for Humanities and Social Sciences (2010-13), Director of the East Asian Studies Program (2008-10), and Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. Her non-academic experience includes working at Morgan Stanley and consulting for the World Bank and various government subcontractors.  Tsai is regarded as an authority on informal finance in China and the impact of adaptive informal institutions on endogenous institutional change. Her current research concerns party-state capitalism in China, the surveillance industry, and the political economy of remittances and ethnic foreign direct investment in China and India.



  • The State and Capitalism in China, co-authored with Margaret Pearson and Meg Rithmire (New York: Cambridge Elements Series, Cambridge University Press, 2023).
  • Evolutionary Governance in China: State-Society Relations under Authoritarianism, co-edited with Szu-chien Hsu and Chun-chih Chang (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Asia Center, Harvard University Press, 2021). 
  • State Capitalism, Institutional Adaptation, and the Chinese Miracle, co-edited with Barry Naughton (New York and London: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
  • CAPITALISM WITHOUT DEMOCRACY: The Private Sector in Contemporary China (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007). Chinese translation published by Zhejiang People’s Publishing House, Hangzhou, China, 2012.
  • Japan and China in the World Political Economy, co-edited with Saadia Pekkanen (New York: Routledge, 2005).
  • Nongyehua yu minjian jinrong: Wenzhou de jingyan [Rural industrialization and informal finance: Wenzhou’s experience], co-authored with Wang Xiaoyi and Li Renqing (Taiyuan: Shanxi jingji chubanshe, 2004).
  • BACK-ALLEY BANKING: Private Entrepreneurs in China (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002; paperback in 2004). Chinese translation published by the Center for Contemporary China Series, National Tsing Hua University, Taipei, Taiwan, 2007.



  • “Institutional Adaptability in China:  Local Developmental Models Under Changing Economic Conditions,” (co-authored with Xiaoxiao Shen), World Development 87 (November 2016): 107-127.
  • “When Shadow Banking Can be Productive: Financing Small and Medium Enterprises in China,” Journal of Development Studies (September 2016): 1-25.
  • “Cosmopolitan Capitalism: Local State-Society Relations in China and India,” Journal of Asian Studies 75, 2 (May 2016): 335-361.
  • “Adaptive Informal Institutions and Endogenous Institutional Change in China,” World Politics 59 (October 2006): 116-141.