I’m an Associate Professor in the departments of Political Science, Asian Studies and Science, Technology & Society at Union College in New York, and I was the Director of Asian Studies (2019-22). You can connect with me on LinkedIn.
In 2023-24, I was a Wilson Center China Fellow, working on research about the effects of US export controls on industry ecosystems, their effectiveness in achieving American policy goals and the transformations in US export controls from the Cold War, post-Cold War and current eras.
In 2021-22, I was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow for Tenured International Relations Scholars (IAF-TIRS), through which I worked at the World Bank in the Trade & International Integration Research Group.
In 2019, I was the Hallsworth Visiting Professor at the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester, working on research on power in global value chains.
In 2016-17, I was a visiting scholar at the Strategic Management and Public Policy Department at the School of Business, George Washington University.
And in 2013-14, I was the An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. I’ve also been a visiting scholar at the School of Government at Peking University and the Shandong Institute of East Asian Studies in Jinan, China.
My research has been funded by Fulbright fellowships, the Harvard-Yenching Institute, Lemelson Technology Grants, the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, the National Security Education Program, the Blakemore Foundation, among many other smaller grants. I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and my BA from Princeton University in Philosophy, summa cum laude.
For a few videos which summarize my research, you can read and watch my Congressional testimony before the US-China Economic & Security Review Commission on “US-China Competition in Global Supply Chains”. And I delivered the Kaplan Lecture at Brandeis University in 2022 on “The Return of Geopolitics: Global Value Chains, Emerging Technologies & US-China Relations.” I also moderated an interview with Peter Cleveland (TSMC) and Brittany Masalosalo (3M) on supply chains for the National Committee for US-China Relations. See my Media for other media appearances. For more in-depth and theoretical treatments, please see my research publications. A more macro perspective is a World Bank study on “Massive Modularity: Understanding Industry Organization in the Digital Age” with my co-authors, Eric Thun (@Oxford), Daria Taglioni (@World Bank) and Timothy Sturgeon (@MIT).
I’ve been involved in policy-oriented discussion on the geopolitics of technology in US-China relations with CSIS-Chey Institute (on semiconductor export controls, supply chains and modularity), National Bureau of Asian Research and Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania, among others.
Although I’m a trained political scientist, I’m involved with cross-disciplinary research with peer-reviewed research in business administration, technology management, geography, development studies, sociology, among others (see “Research” for benchmarks of my publications across disciplines). I’m also involved with the Templeton Institute of Engineering and Computer Science at Union College, which combines engineering and CS with liberal arts. I served on the Planning Committee and am a member of the Steering Committee, along with the Artificial Intelligence Presidential Working Group. I’m also teaching a course, called Artificial Intelligence: Technology, Organization, Governance and Visions of the Future which is a Templeton course.
My research and teaching projects focus on the intersection of China, global value chains, and emerging and foundational technologies, especially in information-communication technologies (5G mobile telecommunications, software and semiconductors), Chinese industrial and technology policies, and US-China relations. Several of my current projects (with many fabulous co-authors) examines the ‘stack’ of modular technologies across many ICT sectors. We are developing new concepts in organizational theory and strategic management — Massive Modular Ecosystems — which we believe best characterizes unique organizational features of ALL digital technologies and can help anticipate their emergent organizational evolution with implications for national security, antitrust and other regulation and national development. Among other topics, we are examining: the deepening of country-level and firm-level technological specialization and integration; the changing roles of Chinese firms and their inter-firm linkages in this ecosystem; the redundancies, substitutability, vulnerabilities and chokepoints in GVCs for the US, China and other countries; the implications for industrial and technology policies and for decoupling as a rules-based globalization is up-ended and the foreign policy and security implications of these technological changes. My research projects are spread over several distinct but overlapping areas:
1) a study on mobile telecommunications, including 5G which examines firm substitutability, country vulnerability and policy implications of what we call ‘massive modular systems,’ based on 600+ mobile handset teardown reports (from 2004-2021) which contain data on every component in each phone, along with a trove of other data (with Daria Taglioni @World Bank, Tim Sturgeon @MIT, Eric Thun @Oxford). We have two very short World Bank blogs that summarize some of our ideas here and here, and a VoxEU piece. The full World Bank working paper, Massive Modularity: Understanding Industry Organization in the Digital Age is now out. However, this framework has subsequently been updated in a new manuscript, currently under Revise & Resubmit, and also branching into other papers.
2) a study of technological evolution of mobile application processors (CPUs), which tracks the ‘encapsulation’ of mobile functionality into digital apps processors, using data on ~10,000 phones (with Daria Taglioni @World Bank, Tim Sturgeon @MIT, Eric Thun @Oxford)
3) some studies of open source contributions to Android Operating System using a dataset of millions of software contributions (with Jimmy Shiu @National Chengkung University).
We have a couple papers under peer review:
“Generational technological change on the Android platform: Adaptive conformity and its effects on product distinctiveness” (with Jing-Ming Shiu and Liang-Chun Chen)
“Varieties of generational technology transitions: The Android platform, complementors and sequential ambidexterity in organizational learning” (with Jing-Ming Shiu and Zih-Rong Wang)
4) several studies on the telecom standard-setting process in 3GPP, on open innovation, interfirm collaboration networks, social capital and network theory (with Jimmy Shiu @National Chengkung University).
Three papers are now published:
A friend of a friend? Social capital and networks in telecommunications standard-setting organizations in Technological Forecasting & Social Change(with Jing-Ming Shiu and Hui-Hsuan Huang)
Power in consensus: Legitimacy, global value chains and inequality in telecommunications standard-setting in Global Networks (with Jing-Ming Shiu)
Collaboration and Social Capital in Meta-Organizations: Bonding or Bridging? (with Jing-Ming Shiu and Hui-Hsuan Huang)
We also have another paper under peer-review:
“The Formation and Effects of Social Capital in Telecommunications Standard-setting Organizations” (with Jing-Ming Shiu and Hui-Hsuan Huang)
and a working paper:
“The paradox of ‘institutionalizing dynamism’: Stability and change in high-tech standard-setting” (with Jing-Ming Shiu and Yu-Lan Chen)
5) research on inter-firm alliances in the semiconductor industry (with Doug Fuller @CUHK and Jimmy Shiu @National Chengkung University). These studies focus on the intersection of industry structure, global interdependencies and national security. They include a study of the global networks linking about 500 IP core vendors with global leading foundries, a study of TSMC Open Innovation Platform, and a study of evolution of inter-firm strategic alliances in semiconductors since the 1990s.
US-China tensions over technology: Another set of projects examine the dynamic evolution since the early 2000s of Chinese industrial and technology policies, and US reactions, including economic coercion.
With Abe Newman @Georgetown, Yeling Tan @UOregon and Henry Farrell @SAIS, we are working with a large newspaper dataset with over 500,000 articles from 2005-2020. We are examining the impact of US export controls (and other policies), and the Snowden revelations on Chinese reactions as reflected in Chinese newspapers (and Chinese policies) in terms of the relative salience of “security” and “development.”
Other research areas and datasets concerning US-China relations that I’m working on:
7) Chinese industrial and technology policies, including policies focused on semiconductors. I am examining the continuity and change between Chinese policies since the Medium and Long Term Plan (2006).
8) Applications of US sanctions legislation, including export controls and tariffs and other forms of economic coercion. I am examining the implications of ICT modularity on the capacity of Chinese firms and government policy to react effectively to US ‘weaponization’ of supply chains. We are using a comprehensive dataset of all Chinese firms on BIS Entity List, and coded each BIS Federal Register Notice.
9) The effectiveness of US Entity List designation on Chinese firms’ trade behavior which uses very detailed firm-level trade datasets on Chinese firms, and which partially builds upon my China Transactional Trade and Investment Data Project (see below).
Other exciting projects include:
10) a study on the role of mobile OS platforms on the distribution of power in mobile app GVCs (with Umair Choksy @ U Stirling and Matt Alford @U Manchester).
We have a paper under peer-review:
“Power and governance in the mobile app global value chain: The case of Pakistan” (with Umair Choksy and Matthew Alford)
11) research on Brazilian development in GVCs (with Tim Sturgeon @MIT)
A long-termer project examines Global Value Chains through the lens of complexity theory and emergence in China and the East Asian region with the intersection of “big data” and qualitative research methods (concept formation, categorization and measurement). In 2013, I initiated a large and on-going project called the China Transactional Trade and Investment Data Project. An important component of CTTID is a unique database on Chinese trade. Together with colleagues in Computer Science, Economics and Statistics, we have acquired and installed a large-scale database which records every import and export transaction conducted by Chinese firms (a few hundred million transactions in all). In addition, I have collected other large data sets, which I use to observe in detail the organization of Chinese, East Asian and trans-regional trade, FDI and production networks, all with an eye for better understanding both the organization of the international economy, as well as China’s integration with it and the policy implications of fragmented production for China and developing countries. This is a project with which many students have also been involved. The large-scale size of the databases mean that analysis is extraordinarily time consuming and ripe for collaboration.
Using these data along with materials from extensive fieldwork in China, I am writing a book entitled Fragmented Development: China, East Asia and Emergent Global Production, which details the fragmentation of global production and trade, the effects on and adaptations of Beijing policymakers, local governments and producer groups, the role of industrial and other policies, and regional development. I also have many articles and book chapters on these topics, which can be found under my research.
Please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know your interests if you would like to collaborate.