I am a business school-trained sociologist. I received my Ph.D. from MIT Sloan in 2013. I am currently working at Peking University’s National School of Development as an assistant professor in management. I have been affiliated with the Centre for Business Research at University of Cambridge in various roles.
Trained as a sociologist, my research is informed by the intersection of historical sociology and economic sociology. Employing mixed methods, my past and current work revolves around three substantive areas: 1) how social networks inhabited meritocracy; 2) how organizational identities are socially constructed; and 3) how corporate social responsibility (CSR) emerged and became institutionalized.
My early work on CSR has been published in management journals, including Journal of Business Ethics, Management and Organization Review, and Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management. My more recent scholarly pieces are accepted or at advanced review stages in major sociology journals such as British Journal of Sociology, Socio-Economic Review, Social Forces, American Sociological Review, Canadian Review of Sociology, and Sociological Studies (in Chinese).
Ongoing and Future Research
I am currently completing a coauthored book manuscript tentatively titled “Revisiting the Needham Question,” under contract with The Princeton University Press. Named after Joseph Needham (1900-1995), the original question is “why and how China had ceded its leadership in science and technology to Western countries in the 17th century.” We revisit this question with empirical evidence of more than 10,000 inventions and scientific discoveries coded from a 27-volume series of Science and Civilization in China. Analysis of this and other datasets helps set the question right: Ancient China was extraordinarily inventive as it led the world in science and technology for a substantial period, but the decline started as early as the 6th century. We answer this question highlighting a temporal variation of Chinese history by proposing a tripartite typology of the Chinese state.
Going through the achievement of historical figures inspires me to study today’s tech entrepreneurs. There is a considerable number of Chinese business people who make a fortune through tech-based entrepreneurship. Still under a strong state, they are becoming an important social force and voice their opinions through social media. I plan to write a book to explore how they understand and what they do about inequality that is intertwined with the externalities of their tech business, paying close attention to the boundary they draw, discourses they employ, and behaviors they display to influence society and policy making.