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"China's size itself indicates the significance of expanding our research in this area."

Deakin Business School (DBS) has launched the China Business and Economics Research Centre (C-BERC), which will facilitate new and strengthen existing ties with universities across China.

The centre's aim is to conduct and promote world-class research; establish relationships with leading academics, centres and institutes in the field; and develop the research capacity of early career researchers and PhD students.

DBS Executive Dean, Professor Mike Ewing, says that with China becoming increasingly important to the Australian economy, it is vital to gain a deeper understanding of the Chinese business and economic environment.

 ‘C-BERC is an inclusive, representative umbrella and comprises of staff drawn from diverse disciplines at Deakin Business School. It aims to consolidate and strengthen the school’s research focus.’

‘The centre also provides a focal point for DBS staff who engage in Chinese business research and is interdisciplinary in nature, thus offering myriad opportunities for collaboration,’ he says.

C-BERC is headed up by Associate Professor Wang Sheng Lee and comprises 39 academics from Deakin Business School’s Departments of Accounting, Economics, Management, Finance and Marketing.

Assoc. Prof. Lee explains that research collaboration, especially with overseas partners, can be of mutual benefit because it encourages scholarly exchange, improves research capability, builds networks and increases publication outcomes. Currently, several C-BERC staff members are involved in collaborative projects with researchers in Chinese universities such as Peking University, Renmin University, Zhejiang University, Sichuan and institutes such as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. DBS also has strong lines with Wuhan University and SWUFE, amongst others.

‘The story of China is often told as a contest between East and West and between a centralised and a free market economy. In reality, the truth is much more complex than that portrayed in textbooks. To understand China, we must understand it within its own unique context: its history, culture, people and politics,’ he says.

‘Dramatic economic and social changes in modern China present challenges as well as opportunities to policy makers and social scientists today. We are very fortunate that there is now an abundance of data related to China, allowing good empirical work to be done on issues relevant to China. Many of these data sets are available to researchers outside of China,’ he says.

C-BERC is already working on a number of exciting projects related to China, including research into commitment and performance of public sector employees in China, rural-urban migration, the effect of marriage laws and hukou status on health and well-being, and the issue of baby formula shortage and parallel trade, A. Prof Lee explains.

‘The Chinese economy is now the second largest in the world and the size itself indicates the significance of expanding our research in this area,’ he says.

The centre’s focus on internationalisation aligns well with Deakin Business School’s existing vision and mission and in a broader context also with the University’s strategic plan.