Book Manuscript Under Contract

Huang Yasheng, Enying Zheng, Wei Hong, Danzi Liao, Meicen Sun. 2023. “Revisiting the Needham Question.” Under contract with Princeton University Press.

  • We have compiled several unique datasets, with a primary one consisting of 10,000+ inventions and scientific discoveries from Joseph Needham and his colleagues’ collection of Science and Civilization in China.
  • It helps set the question right: Ancient China was extraordinarily inventive as China led the rest of the world in science and technology for a substantial period, but decline started as early as the 6th century, not in the 17th century.
  • We propose a tripartite typology of the Chinese state, a framework that conceptualizes Chinese history as a journey that transitioned through three distinct phases of Chinese polity with dramatically contrasting implications for technological development. These are: 1) the polycentric state (5th century BCE to 6th century CE), when the country was fragmented both politically and ideologically; 2) the enabling state (the 6th century to the 13th century), when the country retained some of the ideological polycentrism from the previous era, while polycentrism of the political kind largely disappeared; and 3) the controlling state (from the 13th century on), when state capacity was substantial but applied exclusively toward maintaining political absolutism and ideological uniformity.
  • We suggest the policy implications: the state should continue to provide financial and infrastructural support for science and innovation-based economy, but refrain itself from intervening in the specific topics or industries.

Peer-reviewed Publications

(+ student; * corresponding author)

  1. Li, Tan+, Jar-der Luo, Enying Zheng*. 2023. “Political Connections.” Socio-Economic Review, forthcoming, DOI: 10.1093/mwad056
  2. Zheng, Enying. 2023. “Becoming Buddhists: The Emergence of a Prestigious Temple.” British Journal of Sociology,
  3. Zhang, Frank Lei, and Enying Zheng*. 2023. “Intergenerational Mobility through Inhabited Meritocracy: Evidence from Civil Service Examinations of Early- and Mid-Ming Dynasty.” Canadian Review of Sociology,
  4. Zheng, Enying, Wenjie Liao, Yan Xing, Jiajia Zheng+. 2023. “Institutionalizing corporate social responsibility disclosure: Historical webpages of the Fortune global 500 companies, 1997–2009.” Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 30 (2): 661-676.
  5. Ke, Rongzhu, Wei Hong, and Enying Zheng*. 2023. “An Institutional Trilemma of ‘Meritocracy’: Evidence from Civil Service Examinations in the Ming Dynasty” (in Chinese) Sociological Studies 38 (1): 96-115.
  6. Han, Yi, and Enying Zheng*. 2019. “Organizational Imprinting and the Welfare Practices of Chinese State-owned Enterprises.” The Journal of Chinese Sociology (invited by the editorial team for English translation)
  7. Han, Yi, and Enying Zheng*. 2016. “­­­Why Firms Perform Differently in Corporate Social Responsibility?: Firm Ownership and the Persistence of Organizational Imprints.” Management and Organization Review 12 (3): 605-629.
  8. Han, Yi, Enying Zheng, and Minya Xu. 2014. “The Influence from the Past: Organizational Imprinting and Firms’ Compliance with Social Insurance Policies in China.” Journal of Business Ethics 122 (1): 65-77.
  9. Zheng, Enying. 2013. “Bringing Workers Back in: Native Place Networks, Solidarity, and Labor Standards in China.” Academy of Management Proceedings 2013 (1): 1333-1338.

Articles at Advanced Review Stages

  • 10. Opper, Sonja, and Enying Zheng*. 2023. “Colonial influence.” Under R&R at American Sociological Review.
  • 11. Zheng, Enying, Wei Hong, Yasheng Huang,and Rongzhu Ke*. 2023. “Group Boundary.” under minor revision at Social Forces.