Kellee Tsai

Dean of Humanities and Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Professor Kellee S. Tsai joined The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in 2013 as Head of the Division of Social Science, and was appointed Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science in July 2018.

Before coming to HKUST, Prof Tsai served as Vice Dean of Humanities and Social Science (2010-2013), Director of the East Asian Studies Program (2008-10), and Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University (2000-13).

Trained as a political scientist (PhD, Columbia University), Prof Tsai is the author or co-author of dozens of articles and six books, including Back-Alley Banking: Private Entrepreneurs in China (Cornell, 2002); Japan and China in the World Political Economy (co-edited with Saadia Pekkanen, Routledge, 2005); Capitalism without Democracy: The Private Sector in Contemporary China (Cornell, 2007); State Capitalism, Institutional Adaptation, and the Chinese Miracle (co-edited with Barry Naughton, Cambridge, 2015); Evolutionary Governance in China: State-Society Relations under Authoritarianism (co-edited with Szu-chien Hsu and Chun-chih Chang, Harvard, 2021); and The State and Capitalism in China (co-authored with Margaret Pearson and Meg Rithmire, Cambridge 2023). Her research on informal finance, local development, private entrepreneurship, and migration in China and India has been supported by competitive grants from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), Committee on Scholarly Communication with China (CSCC), Ford Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, National Science Foundation (NSF), and Hong Kong SAR Research Grants Council (RGC).

Tsai is regarded as an authority on informal finance in China and the impact of adaptive informal institutions on endogenous institutional change. Her current research concerns party-state capitalism in China, the surveillance industry, and the political economy of remittances and ethnic foreign direct investment in China and India, and bridging East-West approaches to AI ethics and regulation.

Tsai previously worked at the New York offices of Morgan Stanley and Women’s World Banking, and has consulted for the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), venture capital firms, and government subcontractors.

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