Research Programmes

Research programmes of the Centre are organised into interlocking projects closely linked to one another, instead of being discrete topics undertaken in isolation by individual researchers. Such an interlocking research chain allows research findings to be exchanged and communicated between projects, keeps research fellows in constant dialogue with one another, facilitates the identification of empirical and theoretical gaps, and enables an effective accumulation and building of knowledge. Currently the following programmes are running:

State Licensing, Market Closure, and Rent Seeking
Asian states intervene extensively in their economies. This creates widespread rent seeking, to the extent that a substantial proportion of economic resources are allocated and distributed in the form of rents through the creation and regulation of monopolies and oligopolies. This programme investigates the regulation of market closure, and the creation, allocation, and pursuit of rents. The goal is to identify various mechanisms of rent production, map out different patterns of rent production across countries, and examine the historical and institutional bases that give rise to such patterns. The programme seeks to understand not only the economic consequences of rent seeking, but also the political implications with regard to industrial policy making, coalitional politics, economic governance, and intra-governmental contentions.

Regulation of Intra-governmental Conflicts
In many large Asian countries, the authority below the top of the political system is disjointed. Far from being a unitary decision-making machinery, the state is characterized by bureaucratic fiefdoms, sectional interests, and local protectionism. The formulation and implementation of regulatory policies are predicated upon bureaucratic bargaining and negotiation along vertical hierarchies. At the same time, local states across different regions tend to protect parochial interests at the expense of national plans. This programme investigates the mechanisms of governing intra-statal conflicts, and assesses the efficacy of regulatory policies under rival bureaucratic fiefdoms.

Social Costs, Externalities, and Innovation
This programme focuses on the multiple dimensions of legal, political, economic, social, and environmental involvement in regulating the exploitation of natural resources, controlling externalities of industrial expansion, safeguarding of public health and welfare, and promoting technological innovation. In many Asian countries, the balance between the contradictory quests of industrial growth, resources exploitation, human security, and long-term development is at best precarious. This programme investigates the capacity of the state in regulating social costs and externalities in the light of widespread rent seeking, intra-statal conflicts, and non-compliance.

Regulatory Governance under Institutional Void
This programme studies the role of certain actors in fulfilling regulatory functions in the absence of either public institutions or market mechanisms, i.e. under the situation of institutional void. These actors, either public offices performing market functions or marker players undertaking regulatory responsibilities, transcend the conventional boundary between public-private and state-market. The programme also looks at citizen participation in monitoring or initiating regulatory power. The goal is to understand under what circumstances and under which forms of governance will institutional void be filled by what type of actors.

Governance in Areas of Contested Territoriality and Sovereignty
Many states in Asia have problems of exerting full political control over some parts of their claimed territory. These places are either controlled by rebels and proxy powers, or under strong influence of separatist movements which denounce the sovereign claim of the ruling regime. This programme investigates alternative forms of governance and the way social and economic exchanges are regulated in those areas of contested territoriality. In comparison to the study of institutional void, the focus here is the basis of arbitration, norms of exchange, and forms of order in the absence of stable political structure and law enforcement.