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Revisiting innovation in China: State, market, and space (Advert Reference: SF19/EE/GES/FU)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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Dr W Fu , Dr K Cassidy Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The classical North-South spillover thesis no longer can account for the innovation dynamics in China, whereby the new millennium has witnessed the rise of Neo-Techno-Nationalism (NTN) which is characterized by China’s nationalistic efforts to boost indigenous capabilities. Unlike older forms of techno-nationalism, the standard strategy of the NTN paradigm often includes adherence to international norms, cooperation with foreign partners, and a recognition of the need for new forms of public-private accommodation. More prominently, China’ Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) could be regarded as a geopolitical strategy to challenge the existing social-technical system centred around the Western neoliberalism. The role of the state, along with the market through its integration into the neoliberal globalization processes, has come into an interdependent play with one another, and manifests itself through varied spaces and between scales. Furthermore, while the informal practices and networks have been sustaining the vitality of the bottom ends of the global value chains, they might be reconfigured into a new manner of interaction with formal sector in an era marked by backlash against globalisation, affecting the livelihoods of informal workers, suppliers and communities.

Against this context, this call seeks candidates who will advance theoretically-informed and empirically-intriguing projects that include, but not limited to, the following topics:

- Political economy of China’s regional innovation
- Emerging technologies and entrepreneurship
- Spatial reorganisation of China as a former site of “world factory”
- Social impact of state-led innovation
- Reconfigured informal sector in the backlash against globalisation

The PhD candidate should engage with contemporary economic geographical debates and is expected to develop sophisticated and novel methodology, be it quantitative or qualitative, in the research project.

This project is supervised by Dr Wenying Fu.

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/EE/GES/FU) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2020 or 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project.


Fu W. 2019. Spatial mobility and opportunity-driven entrepreneurship: the evidence from China labor-force dynamics survey. Journal of Technology Transfer,
Fu W., Schiller D. and Revilla Diez J. 2017. Determinants of networking practices in the Chinese transition context: Empirical insights from the Pearl River Delta. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, 108(2): 205-219.
Fu W. 2016. Industrial clusters as hothouses for nascent entrepreneurs? The case of Tianhe Software Park in Guangzhou, China. The Annals of Regional Science, 57(1): 253-270.
Fu W., Revilla Diez J. and Schiller D. 2013. Interactive learning, informal networks and innovation: Evidence from electronics firm survey in the Pearl River Delta, China. Research Policy, 42(3): 635-646.
Fu W., Revilla Diez J. and Schiller D. 2012. Regional innovation systems within a transitional context: Evolutionary comparison of the electronics industry in Shenzhen and Dongguan since the opening of China. Journal of Economic Surveys, 26(3): 534-550.
Fu W., Revilla Diez J. 2010. Knowledge spillovers and technological upgrading: The case of Guangdong Province, China. Asian Journal of Technology Innovation, 18(2): 187-217.

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