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Accelerating economic research for global progress

Summer school of Xiamen Academy of International LawCredit: Xiamen University

Targeting national strategic needs and the globalized business world, XMU consistently produces impactful socio-economic research and well-rounded graduates. Thanks to the support of multiple national platforms, it is also attracting international talent to drive innovation.

A hub for established and emerging economists

XMU has one school and two associated institutes dedicated to economic research and education: the School of Economics (SoE), the Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics (WISE), and the Gregory and Paula Chow Center for Economic Research (Chow Center).

The history of economic research and education at XMU can be traced back to 1921, the year the university was founded. The SoE, established in 1981, is the first of its kind after China’s major economic reform. WISE, founded in 2005, is a research-oriented institute with the goal of modernizing economic research and education in China. The Chow Center, supported by the generous gifts of the Gregory and Paula Chow Foundation, was launched in 2016 to further advance economic research, train world-class economists, and support global recruitment and exchange.

SoE, WISE and Chow Center have an international faculty with almost 100 PhD graduates from the world’s top universities, and offer English-language undergraduate and graduate courses for students. They host programmes, such as the International Research Training Groups, in collaboration with the Center for Applied Statistics and Economics at Humboldt University of Berlin, and the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master in Economics of Globalisation and European Integration, with six universities from the European Union. These two programmes were selected as ‘International Cooperative Program for Innovative Talents’ by China’s Ministry of Education respectively in 2018 and 2019. In November 2019, Essential Science Indicators listed XMU’s research field of economics and business in the world’s top 1%. According to the QS World University Rankings in 2020, its research field of economics and econometrics has ranked among the world’s top 150.

Econometrics and statistics, in particular, are among XMU’s strongest fields and their results have consistently ranked among the top in China. The founding director of WISE, Yongmiao Hong, is internationally renowned for developing a new spectral tool suitable for both linear and nonlinear time series analyses, revealing valuable insights behind cyclical economic data such as business trends and cycles. XMU also hosted the 2019 Asian Meeting of the Econometric Society, the first time it took place in mainland China. As the global academic centre for economic studies, it has attracted Nobel laureates and other top academics to its conferences, seminars and summer schools.

2019 Asian Meeting of the Econometric SocietyCredit: Xiamen University

Bridging management theory and practice

The School of Management (SoM) was formally established in 1999 from the consolidation of departments, including business administration, accounting, tourism management, and system science. It is among 70 business schools worldwide that concurrently received accreditations by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Of its diverse faculty, 84% are selected for nationwide talent projects at various levels.

XMU’s School of ManagementCredit: Xiamen University

Driven by this network of international academic, business, and policy experts, SoM has been leading projects with government bodies and international NGOs on initiatives from energy to tourism. Apart from gleaning insights from big data and statistics with its XMU Data Mining Research Centre, another of its research centres, dedicated to optimizing China’s investment environment, has been providing consultancy services for national and regional-level government offices. SoM’s accounting department has also set up a dedicated thinktank, whose research has been pivotal for improving national accounting standards.

Two notable projects are testament to SoM’s research excellence. A first for academics from China, two SoM professors, Hanwen Chen and Yanyan Wang, published in The Journal of Accounting Research a paper that examines the borrower-lender relationship and accounting conservatism for a sample of Chinese companies and banks. They compared state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private firms, and found evidence to support their hypothesis that SOEs adopt less conservative accounting methods. Their findings were outlined in Financial Accounting Theory by William Scott.

Another international project co-led by Chaopeng Wu became the first in the field of finance and accounting selected as a major programme of the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Published in The Review of Financial Studies, it investigated the effect of intellectual property (IP) rights protection on innovation in China with the privatization of SOEs. Using the statistical technique ‘difference in differences’, it measures the differential effect on the targeted group versus the control group. The results have supported theoretical arguments that IP rights protection strengthens innovation incentives, and influences the private sector firms more than SOEs.

New perspectives on legal studies

Following its rapid expansion since 1926, XMU’s School of Law (SoL) has become one of the top law schools in China with emphasis on a globalized curriculum and local context. SoL is the only project member selected in mainland China for the G-15 Law School Pilot Project led by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. It has also published a Chinese-language journal about international economic laws. In addition, SoL’s Centre for Legislative Studies, launched in 2015, was also the first to represent China in joining as a member of the International Association of Legislation in October 2019.

Among its talent development initiatives, SoL’s Xiamen Academy of International Law was established in 2005. Its president, Jiuyong Shi, is a former president of the International Court of Justice of the United Nations. It has held 14 seminars, attended by more than 100 experts of international law, and 1,600 students from around the world. It has also published a Chinese-language journal about international economic laws.

The vision of SoL’s cross-disciplinary approach is exemplified by its research centres. One of them combines legal studies with neuroscience and psychology. Its executive director, Xuyang Wu, along with SoL’s current dean, Fangqing Song, has designed and conducted experiments for new theories on cognitive influences on judges and jurors, and on the philosophies of law.