I am an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan.
How does development actually occur? Why are some nations able to make the Great Leap–a radical economic and institutional transition–from poverty and backwardness to wealth and modernity? What shapes the ability of governments and societies to adapt at various stages of development?
My research aims to develop new ideas and tools to understand development as a complex, non-linear process. My regional expertise is on developing countries and emerging markets, particularly China. I focus on three connected themes:
- how markets first emerge in the absence of good governance and state capacity, and then subsequently evolve;
- the design of institutions that enable effective adaptation;
- the interactive relationship between corruption and growth.
My book, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (Cornell University Press, Cornell Studies in Political Economy, 2016), examines all three themes and lays the foundation for my research agenda. It won the 2017 Peter Katzenstein Book Prize for “outstanding first book in international relations, comparative politics, or political economy.” It has been reviewed at the World Bank, Straits Times, Foreign Affairs, Harvard’s Building State Capability Blog, and other outlets.
My work has received awards and support from various institutions. I received two Early Career Fellowships from the Andrew Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Eldersveld Prize for outstanding research contributions from the University of Michigan, as well as recent grants from the Smith Richardson Foundation and IBM Center for the Business of Government. I am also winner of a global essay competition on “The Future of Development Assistance,” sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In the policy realm, I am named a Public Intellectuals Fellow by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and had served on the United Nations Expert Group on Eradicating Poverty.
A native of Singapore, I attended Colorado College and received my PhD from Stanford University. Prior to joining Michigan, I was on the faculty of Columbia University SIPA, where I taught political and economic development.