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UOA 36 - Business and Management Studies

School of Oriental and African Studies

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

SOAS RA5 Business and Management


Research Environment

The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is the part of the University of London specialising in the study of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It possesses the largest concentration of scholars concerned with the whole of Asia and Africa at any university in the world. In September 2001 the Department of Financial and Management Studies (DeFiMS) was established, as part of SOAS’s proactive response to the rapid rise of East Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions as the world power in manufacturing, trade and financial capital generation. The establishment of DeFiMS reinforces SOAS’s existing strength in Asian and African studies and further extends it to the fields of comparative studies of management, finance, and financial law and regulation. The School’s physical position in central London provides a considerable advantage in being able to draw on the expertise of the City of London, one of the world’s leading financial centres. A number of senior practitioners have been our guest speakers in lectures and seminars, and participated in other collaborative activities.


Research students

The success of our PhD programme is marked by the high rate of publications in international peer-reviewed journals that were produced by our PhD students during their study period. An incomplete list includes three articles (two in RA2) by Tobin during his three years of PhD study; two by Brück in his three years of study (one published and one accepted for publication); two by Ryoo (one published and one accepted for publication) in her four years of study; and one by Hong, and one by Lingohr* in their third year of study. The journals include World Development, Corporate Governance: An International Review, Applied Financial Economics, China Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary China, and Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies. This record is evidence of our rigorous and robust supervision mechanisms. Supervisors take their supervision responsibility as an integral part of their research and teaching. They conduct in-depth discussions with their research students every two or three weeks. Departmental Research Committees monitor the performance of individual students and supervisors. Students have to prepare a paper refereed by two members of staff other than the supervisor and present a seminar before being upgraded from M.Phil to PhD. PhD students regularly contribute to our weekly research workshop series and Discussion Paper series, and where they have  publishable works they also contribute to our weekly research seminar series. We have an induction and training program to help PhD students acquire teaching skills. The publication record and graduate teaching experience of our PhD students gives them an advantage in the job market. Many of them have gone on to lectureships in universities in the UK and abroad (China, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and other countries), or to influential positions in government (e.g., Dr. Kaputo* as a Division Head in the Central Bank of Zambia) or in international organizations like UN-FAO or in multinational corporations (e.g. Boston Consulting Group). Our part-time PhD students mainly work in the banking industry.


            We have good School computing facilities including a wide range of regional specific databases, financial databases including Thomson Datastream, SinoFin and others, and a unique library collection supported by special funding as a national resource with more than 1,200,000 volumes in over 400 languages and some 4,500 periodicals (printed and electronic), and easy access to all the research facilities in London. Research Students have desks in shared rooms and full access to computing facilities, databases, and departmental research support.


Research income

The official figures for research grants amount to about £280k. This does not take into account our use of external funding, since in many cases the grants go through collaborating institutions. For instance, over this period Sun received US$ 200k in grants from the United Nations University (UNU) to run a research project on “Property Rights Regimes, Microeconomic Incentives and Development” and the fund was directly administrated by the UNU. Sun and collaborators received EUR 800k in grants from the European Commission to IIASA to establish “Policy Decision Support for Sustainable Adaptation of China’s Agriculture to Globalization (CHINAGRO)” (EU contract number: ICA4-CT-2001-10085). Sun and collaborators received RMB 6,000k (about GBP 400k) in grants from the China Academy of Sciences to its Institute of Geography to conduct systems analysis in human activities and changes of terrestrial ecosystems in China. It is also worth mentioning that much of our research on theoretical and empirical finance does not require grant funding thanks to the School’s subscription to financial databases like Datastream, SinoFin, and others.


Research structure

Our aim has been to promote excellence in focused academic areas with an application emphasis on East Asia and MENA regions. We emphasise integrated theoretical and empirical analysis addressing significant policy issues for public and private sector users in relation to the field of business and management, investment and finance, financial law and regulation, and comparative analysis of institutions and economic development. This has produced a deeply embedded research culture, reinforced by graduate teaching (MScs in International Management for China, for Japan, and for MENA respectively; MScs in Finance and Financial Law, Financial Management, and Financial Economics; and the PhD program, which begins with a year of compulsory training courses in Research Methods and Advanced Topics in Finance and Management).

Our persistent focus on teams of researchers has consolidated the tradition of collaborative research within the Department and the School. Over twenty of the papers in RA2 involve co-authors who are current or past members of the Department, the School’s and/or our PhDs. The Department runs a weekly research seminar series for academic staff and PhD students, a weekly research workshop series for PhD students and junior staff, and an on-line Discussion Paper series ( The Department has set up a special fund of £10k per year to support research training and research by staff. This includes paying for submission fees, attendance at conferences, and attendance at advanced training courses. Within the department there is provision for regular, one in eight, sabbaticals. The School and Faculty also provide research grants. The success of these mechanisms for promoting research is shown by the productivity evident in RA2 of the group of young researchers hired after the last RAE and by our history of producing top class PhDs.


Our four main research groupings provide a focus for research planning and coordination and a strong support structure for the younger faculty and PhD researchers. They are not restrictive, however, and as evidenced below researchers typically work in more than one group and there is significant research across group boundaries:


Business and management in East Asia and MENA regions

Ash**, Howe^, Sun (professors); Fattouh (Reader); Bo, Poole (senior lecturers); Groom, Macnaughtan, Tobin, Fell** (lecturers); Li (post-doctoral fellow).


This is an area where SOAS has been traditionally strong, particularly in the evolution of business environment and managerial systems in the greater China region. Ash, Howe, Fell, Sun have published five books (two in RA2 of this Department) and a large number of journal articles (four in RA2) in this field. All 5 books have received very positive responses. For example, Sun’s book on “Aggregate Behaviour of Investment in China” was praised as being “timely in re-evaluating and consolidating the research in the field over the past couple of decades …. Sun’s two estimated equations may represent the best statistical evidence of this phenomenon [cyclical investment growth]” (Journal of Comparative Economics, 30, 4: 620-622).

Poole and his co-authors have focused on supply chain management, performance of marketing systems, and policy significance of private business standards in the agrifood industry, with a geographic emphasis on Vietnam and other developing country suppliers to the EU fresh produce market. During the current RAE period, they published more than 20 journal articles in Food Policy, Agribusiness: an International Journal, Supply Chain Management: an International Journal, International Food and Agribusiness Management Review and others. Their ongoing researches examine product quality perceptions under evolving information conditions, benchmarking international food safety performance in the fresh produce sector, supply chain management of Sri Lanka’s export sector, and FDI strategies in India, and economic and social impact of supermarket growth in rapidly growing economies such as Vietnam. Macnaughtan’s publications examine the evolving diversity of Japanese human resource management practice that has been lacking in our understanding of the labour market and employment in Japan as a whole, with an emphasis on the gender dimension of human resources management dynamics in the Japanese textile industry. Her ongoing researches examine the crucial question of what role women workers have to play in Japan’s post-bubble economy and society and how government and business institutions are facing that challenge by constructing (government-level) social policy and (business-level) HRM policy.    

Ash, Groom, Fell, Howe, and Sun continue to work on the evolution of the agricultural system, potentials on trade of agricultural products following China’s further integration into the global market, and the assessments of China’s efforts in protecting its agro-ecological system (with an EU 6th Framework Programme grant of EUR 874k, shared among 6 partner institutions); spread of market mechanisms; energy security; technology transfer; and political economy dynamics across the Taiwan Straits. Bo, Li, Sun, and Tobin are working on the theoretical and empirical relationships between corporate governance arrangement and corporate financing behaviours across Chinese listed companies. Li and Sun are working with Hong (Queens Univ. Belfast, a PhD graduate of the Department) and Chen (Peking Univ.) to examine how different motivations across foreign investors influence the spatial patterns of foreign direct investment (FDI) distribution and the spatial dependences of FDI location choices in the context of China. The spatial scales are at the levels of county, city, and province, respectively. The spatial dependence across source countries has also been examined. Sun and Tobin continue to work on international listing of China’s leading corporations and on inducement mechanisms for entrepreneurship process in China’s state sector. Fattouh and Sun are working with their PhD students to examine the interplay between recent regulatory changes and industrial dynamics in the financial and IT sectors of selected MENA countries. All these on-going researches have led to a number of journal and book submissions and discussion papers.     


Investment, finance and economic growth

Harris**, Sun, Webley (professors); Fattouh, Scaramozzino (readers), Bo, Deidda, Smith (senior lecturers), Adriani, Groom (lecturers), Li (post-doctoral fellow), Piergallini (teaching fellow).


Since 2001, the Department has developed a very strong finance group. The branding feature of this group is the introducing of non-linearity and parameter heterogeneity into the theoretical and empirical modelling of the following five fields: (a) the relationship between financial development and economic growth (five journal articles in RA2 by Deidda, Fattouh, Harris, and Scaramozzino, and their recent working papers and on-going research); (b) the relationship between corporate governance arrangements and corporate financing behaviour and further corporate performance (two journal articles in RA2 by Fattouh, Harris, and Scaramozzino, and their recent working papers and on-going research; and submissions, working papers, and ongoing research by Bo, Li, and Sun with Zou at Univ. Amsterdam); (c) the relationship between corporate investment and uncertainty (four in RA2 of the total eleven journal articles by Bo with Lensink at Univ. Nottingham and Sterken at Univ. Groningen); (d) the relationship between complexity of tasks and wage inequality and between complexity of information and innovation implementation cycles at the micro level (one journal article in RA2 and submissions and ongoing research by Scaramozzino with Dalmazzo at Univ. Siena, Pekkarinen at Uppsala, Temple at Bristol, and Vulkan at Oxford); and (e) testing the random walk/martingale hypotheses for emerging stock markets, with the discovery of the crucial role of liquidity in explaining and reconciling the evidence for different stock markets (four in RA2 of the ten journal articles by Smith with Rogers, an MSc student of SOAS, Jefferis at Bank of Botswana, Ryoo, a PhD graduate of SOAS).   

In addition, Groom and his co-authors (Hepburn at Oxford, Koundouri at UCL, Panopoulou at Praeus in Greece, Pantelidis at National University of Ireland) have extended both theoretical and empirical approaches to assessing the influence of discount rate uncertainty on the expected present value of benefits in the far future. They demonstrate that the schedule of certainty-equivalent discount rates declines with the passage of time but increases with the evaluation date. Their work has led to a number of publications (three in RA2), forthcoming publications and working papers. Their contributions to discounting have been acknowledged in the HM Treasury Guidelines for Cost Benefit Analysis (the Green Book). Webley introduces psychological factors, such as present orientation, self-control, and attitudes towards debt, into economic models of household/individual financial behaviour and demonstrates the prediction powers of these psychological factors in predicting indebtedness and saving behaviour (one in RA2 of three journal articles). Bo and Li are working with Toolsema and Hussain (LSE) to investigate the relationship between managerial traits and corporate investment behaviour in the context of UK and Chinese public firms, respectively, with an additional intention to detect the differences in the above relationship between firms operating in a transition economy and those operating in a mature market economy. Li and Sun are working with Zou (Univ. Amsterdam) to establish both theoretical and empirical models for the observed phenomenon of “solvency insurance” provided by the government to the listed formerly state-owned enterprises in many transition economies. Smith’s ongoing research emphasises the importance of changes through time and is examining changes in the efficiency of stock and stock futures markets using joint variance ratio tests based on (i) ranks and signs and (ii) wild bootstrapping. A number of submissions and discussion papers have been produced in these three directions.


Financial law and regulation

Sun, Webley (professors); Scaramozzino (reader); Alexander, Gkoutzinis^ (lecturers); Piergallini (teaching fellow), Li (post-doctoral fellow).


This group focuses on the theoretical foundation and empirical evolution of key or representative financial laws and regulations across different jurisdictions. For example, a series of theoretical works (three are in RA2) by Piergallini and Scaramozzino (with Annicchiarico and Marini at Univ. Rome ‘Tor Vergata’) predict that fiscal variables crucially affect price level dynamics and that price stability cannot be achieved by a fully independent Central Bank without an appropriate fiscal policy commitment. Their results provide a strong theoretical foundation to the Stability and Growth Pact in the European Union. Li and Sun with Brück (a PhD graduate of the Department) investigate the patterns, determinants, and impact of banking regulation in a large cross-section of countries and put an emphasis on bank scope regulatory divergence in East Asia. They have produced two journal articles and two journal submissions. Webley (with Lewis and Mackenzie at Univ. Bath, Cole and Eidjar at Univ. Exeter and other collaborators) examines the behavioural foundations of business ethics and rule breaking (for example, tax evasion) and other issues relating to psychology and incentives to follow or break laws or regulations (for example, a tool theory versus a drug theory of money). This work has led to a large number of publications (four are in RA2), and working papers.

Alexander and Gkoutzinis are conducting research in the area of regulation in financial services, particularly internet banking and financial crime. Their work has led to two books (in RA2) on internet banking and law and on insider dealing and money laundering in the EU, both of which are the first works to date, certainly in English, and a large number of journal articles and book chapters (four in RA2), and working papers. The book on internet banking and banking law in Europe provides the first conceptual analysis of online banking and investment service activities and a legal analysis of these activities under EU law and the national laws of England and Wales, France and Germany. The book on insider dealing and money laundering in the EU is also to be published in China soon (in Chinese).


Comparative analysis of institutions and economic development

Sun (professor); Fattouh (reader); Deidda (senior lecturer); Tobin (lecturer), Li (post-doctoral fellow), Piergallini (teaching fellow).


SOAS is a natural nurturing ground for solid comparative analysis across the boundaries between the east and west, transition and market economies, and the developing and developed countries. Unfortunately, a large number of our publications in this field were not included in RA2 due to the priority choice to match the core subjects of the panel.

Sun directed a UNU (United Nations University) Project in 2000-02. The project examines the evolution of various property rights regimes across different levels of development and alternative social institutions. The participants included Aoki (Stanford), Lang (Chinese Univ. Hong Kong), Smith (George Washington Univ.), Kruse (Rutgers Univ.), and others. The project produced a symposium in the Journal of Comparative Economics (vol. 30, no. 4, Dec. 2002), a book on recent innovative developments in ownership and governance of enterprises (in RA2), and a number of journal articles (one in RA2). This project book is praised by the project evaluators as “rich in institutional details”, “much thought-provoking…”, and highly relevant and accessible to “students of modern enterprise and policy makers” (UNU/WIDER, Publication Office). Fattouh, Sun and Tobin continue to investigate the changing function of the state in China and in selected MENA countries and to examine to what extent the changes are a consequence of economic liberalization and globalization (one article in RA2).       


The Department regards its close relations with the user community as vital in the design and development of research and also in knowledge transfer. We actively develop relationships with different user groups and seek their support in the design, funding and implementation of timely and relevant research programmes and projects, the dissemination of research results through workshops, lectures, conferences and practitioner publications, and their application to policy formation.

Members of the Department have conducted research commissioned by the EU Commission (Sun on policy decision support tools for sustainable adaptation of China’s agriculture to globalization; Ash and Sun on trade impacts of Chinese agricultural transition; Ash on the EC-China Academic Network, and the EC Annual Conference and Biannual Policy Workshop on China studies; Poole on the impact of international safety and quality standards on the competitiveness of Mediterranean fresh produce); UN (Sun on new developments in corporate ownership and governance; Poole on innovation policies for the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD); the World Bank (Poole contributes to the World Development Report 2008); the Asian Development Bank (Poole on “making markets work better for the poor”); UK DFID (Poole has run or participated in 9 projects); other national organizations such as the China Academy of Sciences (Sun on integrated modelling in ecological economics); and private foundations such as Ford Foundation (Poole on desk review of global rural community enterprises). Harris has been a policy advisor to the Central Banks of a number of African countries.

The department has its own special channel to disseminate its research findings to practitioners. This is its distance learning postgraduate programme, in which over 2,500 students (located in 140 countries) are drawn from a professional background in the government or private sectors. In addition, in 2005-06, five officers from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the Pakistani Department of Revenue were studying in the on-campus MSc Finance and Financial Law programme. 



Staffing policy

In combination with the School’s general procedures, the Department’s measures for encouraging research include both the formal probationary and appraisal systems, both of which monitor research output closely, and the provision of a substantial amount of informal support to junior staff, through a mentoring system and joint research. Research potential and achievement are the most important criteria in appointments and promotion. Research leave is particularly generous for those on initial contracts and for those whose research has been temporarily disrupted by heavy administrative duties. Strong encouragement is given to all members of the Department to seek external funding to support fieldwork or to buy time for writing. As a new Department established in 2001, 10 of the total 14 category-A staff joined the School after January 2001 and 6 are identified as early career researchers. The large and successful research output of the new colleagues and young researchers points to the Department’s success in creating a productive research environment. Several of them have already been promoted to Senior Lecturer, Reader, or Professor. In deciding within the Department which new posts should be filled and which new areas of expertise should be developed, the single most important criterion is research – how effectively the new position would complement existing research strengths and the extent to which it would attract research students. Being a small department in the business and management field, a natural difficulty we face is how to establish a proper balance between integrated research and diverse teaching demands. Our strategy is to focus on doctoral supervision and graduate teaching, and organize our Masters courses around our specialized research programmes.


Esteem indicators (additional)  

During the RAE period, Poole has been an Editor of Food Policy and served on the editorial committee of Footsteps. Howe was the Acting Editor of China Quarterly (2005-06) and was a member of its advisory board thereafter. Webley has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Economic Psychology (and edited two special issues) and the Journal of Socio-Economics. Sun served on the editorial board of the Journal of Comparative Economics for one term (2003-05) and edited a symposium; and he has been member of the executive committee of the editorial board of the China Quarterly. Alexander has served on the editorial board of Financial Crime Monitor.

Sun was invited to deliver a speech to business leaders at Beijing Forum 2005, to give China briefings to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Feb 2004) and to the Delegation of NATO Parliamentary Assembly (March 2005), and to speak in business conferences organized by consulting firms, banks, and corporations in Athens, Madrid, Oxford, and London, respectively. Webley gave keynote addresses to conferences organised by the Australian Tax Office and the Scandinavian association of Tax Officers. Fattouh was invited to deliver a lecture at the Maxwell Fry Memorial Conference organized by the Bank of England (2003), and to make presentations at the Maxwell Fry Global Finance Lecture and Workshop organized by the Money, Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group. Alexander is regularly invited to give presentations at events including the Financial and Regulatory Crime Club, held at Beachcrofts LLP in the City of London, and the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, held annually at Jesus College, Cambridge.  He has also, during 2006, organised and spoken on a training course on the fight against economic crime for the Supreme People’s Procuratorate of the P.R. China.  Similar courses are also ongoing for government organisations in Africa and judges from the Dubai International Financial Centre Court.

Scaramozzino served as a member of the Committee for the appointment of Senior Economists in the Research Department at the Italian Ministry of the Treasury (2004).Webley was elected to the post of President (1999-2001) and Member of the Executive Board of the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology (1989-2002). He has been Member of the Scientific Committee of CISEPS (Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economic, Psychology and the Social Sciences), University of Milan-Bicocca (Chair of committee is Professor Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate 2003) and held a visiting Professorship at the School of Management, Agder University College Norway. The China Academy of Sciences awarded Sun the title of “Outstanding Overseas Chinese Scholar” in 2005 to praise his academic contributions and particularly the key contribution in bridging the collaboration between Chinese and EU research institutions to win the consecutive EU FP5 and FP6 projects. These two projects have access to top policy advisers and policy makers in China. A number of policy briefings based on the findings of the two projects were put on the reading list of the Premier and Vice-Premiers and their staffs. The two projects also run annual policy dialogues and policy workshops which involve senior policy designers in various ministries and commissions. Poole has been appointed to an Innovation Screening Committee of UN-IFAD and is a current Panel Member in the Agricultural Development Scheme (2002-07) of the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and is an Honorary Senior lecturer at Imperial College London. Sun has held visiting research professorship at Guanghua School of Management of Peking University, and the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the China Academy of Sciences. Alexander and Bo have held senior visiting posts at Shandong Judicial Training College (Jinan, China) and Tianjin University of Finance & Economics (Tianjin, China). Deidda has held visiting posts at Boston University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ( ETH) in Zurich. While Gkoutzinis has been actively engaged in the research and teaching of the Department, he is now a practising attorney with the London office of the US firm of Shearman and Sterling.

Fattouh and Sun have frequently been invited to make news commentaries or to be a panellist at CNN (TV), BBC News 24 (TV), BBC World News and BBC World Services (TV and radio), and CNBC Europe and CNBC World.



* Students registered in this Department but under another UoA due to their first supervisor’s being in another UoA.

** Staff in another UoA.

^ Staff no longer at the School.