I am University Professor of Modern China Studies at the University of Vienna, Department of East Asian Studies. A political scientist and sinologist by training, my research is concerned with the adaptability of the Chinese Party-State to social, economic and political challenges. I am especially interested in effects of digital technology on local governance in China. Data derived from expert interviews, expert surveys and web harvesting is processed by means of qualitative content analysis, text statistical methods and inferential statistics.
Currently, I pursue two research projects. One examines the determinants of successful policy innovation in rural China, the other is concerned with the impact of the Internet on governance in China.
I obtained an M.A. in Political Science and Modern China Studies at Heidelberg University, completed my PhD in Political Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen, and served as a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for East- and South East Asian Studies, Lund University. After brief stints as a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science at Lund University and as Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Heidelberg, I became University Professor at the University of Vienna.
My research to date has mainly been concerned with the dynamics of central-local relations in China and Taiwan, where I conducted research on the local politics, the emergence of policy reforms, and the dynamics of political corruption and anticorruption.
In 2010, I published a monograph that examines how the central government and local administrations interacted in formulating and implementing a major policy that targeted rural public finance, local government administration and the provision of public services in China’s villages. A second monograph, co-authored with Thomas Heberer, also examines the interaction of formal and informal processes in grassroots government reforms, but at the urban neighborhood level. In this publication, the focus is on the central government’s attempt to create urban communities in a top-down fashion.
After the conclusion of these two projects, my research has taken a more comparative angle. Inspired by my previous studies on Taiwan’s democratization and democratic consolidation, I formulated a conceptual framework for the study of authoritarian regime consolidation, which yielded a journal article and several co-authored working papers. Thereafter, I teamed up with several former colleagues at the Centre for East- and South East Asian Studies to form the cross-disciplinary China Innovation Study Group, which examines the Chinese government’s innovation policies from different disciplinary angles. The rich exchange within this group kindled my interest in the relationship between innovation and authoritarian consolidation, which I pursue in the context of two new research projects.