MY RESEARCH PROGRAMME
Trained and practicing as an economic geographer, I have a very strong passion for cutting-edge theoretical and empirical research that can contribute significantly to the innovation and development of my research fields and make fruitful connections to cognate research fields in the wider social sciences. My long-term research programme thus consists of three interrelated and inter-disciplinary themes:
theory and methodology in geography
I have always been interested in contributing significantly to theory and methodology in geography. Economic geography has been an extremely vibrant and versatile field of research both in human geography and in the social sciences during the past two decades. In a nutshell, it is a field of research that offers a distinctive economic-geographical perspective on everyday lives and landscapes. It shows how economic activities are spatially organized - through relations among people, firms, industries, and institutions - in different places and regions. My 2005 paper ''Rethinking relational economic geography',published in Geography's top journal Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (3rd in Geography, 2015 SSCI) has pushed further the boundary of what constitutes the nature of economic geography. As of July 2021, the paper has well exceeded the threshold for achieving the status of citation centurion with 368 citations (excluding self citations) in the ISI WoS database. It is also the 10th most cited paper in this top Geography journal since its founding and one of my three papers listed in the Top Papers (last 10 years) in the ISI Essential Science Indicators. Together with my earlier 2003 paper in another top Geography journal, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, both papers offer a novel and deeper conception of a relational approach to understanding the space-economy and specify the methodological practices of this kind of new economic geography.
Since 2021, I have been working on new academic book Theory and Explanation in Geography, contracted with Wiley-Blackwell's RGS-IBG Book Series (for Mar 2022 delivery). This research book is intended for an academic audience, with teaching relevance. It represents my definitive statements on what theory and explanation should be like in the domain of human geography. It will draw upon my two decades of theory and method writing published in all top-3 and many of the top-10 Geography journals (e.g. top-3 of Transactions of IBG, Annals of the AAG, and Progress in Human Geography; and other top-10 such as Economic Geography and Dialogues in Human Geography). When published in 2023/24, this book will push the frontiers of human geography in new and productive ways.
economic globalization and transnational corporations
This major theme of my research focuses on the multi-faceted processes of economic globalization and the role of transnational corporations in driving these processes of global economic change. I have been conducting this research theme through both theoretical and empirical work. In terms of theory, I am particularly interested in the complex relationships between economic globalization and spatial organization. In my earliest theoretical paper on the interrelationships between capital, state, and space in the globalizing era, published in Geography’s Tier 1 journal Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (3rd in Geography, 2015 SSCI) in late 1998, I showed how economic globalization does not lead to the demise of the nation-state and thus the end of geography. Instead, I argued that state and space continue to constitute and shape in very dynamic ways the processes of economic globalization.
My collaborative work with colleagues in the "Manchester School" has now provided one of the most influential analytical frameworks for understanding contemporary economic globalization. This is the so-called "global production networks" (GPN) approach to the study of the global economy. We have published a series of highly cited papers in Global Networks (2001), Review of International Political Economy (2002), and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (2004), Environment and Planning A (2006), and Regional Studies (2009) and Economic Geography (2015). Together, these highly cited papers constitute one of the major Research Fronts in the Social Science category of the ISI Essential Science Indicators (ranked 13rd out of 426 such fronts in the social sciences in July 2011). As of July 2021, three of them were each cited by between 467 (GN) and 1,035 papers (RIPE) in the ISI WoS database and the fourth one by over 188 publications. With 744 citations, the 2004 paper is also the 2nd most cited paper in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, a top Geography journal, since its founding.
In 2015, Neil Coe and I co-authored the GPN2.0 theory book, Global Production Networks: Theorizing Economic Development in an Interconnected World, published by Oxford University Press. As the only theory book in the entire literature on global production networks and global value chains, this landmark publication will provide the definitive framework for future empirical research worldwide. The book has very high impact, having been cited over 692 times on Google Scholar and 303 times on ISI WoS as of July 2021. In connection with this path-breaking way on global production networks, our proposal for the 2014 NUS Strategic Initiative Call to establish a world-class research centre on global production networks was funded for US$4 million in July 2014. Established as the Global Production Networks Centre at NUS (GPN@NUS), this cutting-edge research programme was started in October 2014 and continued till end March 2020. It has already brought major international recognition of NUS as the leading centre for global production networks research.
In July 2019-May 2020, I started writing a new monograph entitled Interconnected Worlds: Global Electronics and Production Networks in East Asia. As a theoretically-grounded empirical follow-up to my coauthored theory book Global Production Networks: Theorizing Economic Development in an Interconnected World (2015, with Neil Coe, Oxford UP), this new book advances our understanding of the transformative shift in global electronics from various national centres of production to globalized production worldwide. The book has seven chapters and 130k words with 59 tables and figures (see ToC and Preface here). After one year of reviews and revisions, the book was accepted in June 2021 for publication by Stanford University Press in its Innovation and Technology in the World Economy Series. It will be published simultaneously in hardbacks and paperbacks sometime in April/May 2022. The book's significance goes well beyond the prestige of a top university press because it will substantially advance interdisciplinary research in innovation and technology studies and cutting-edge work on global production networks. In short, it will enable me to make a major impact in the social sciences at large.
Asian firms in the global economy (and earlier work on ethnic Chinese business firms and their global networks)
This research theme fulfils my long-term empirical and policy interest in the role and performance of Asian firms in the global economy. Since my doctoral research, I have been very interested in the globalization of business firms from Asian newly industrialized economies. Applying the research insights from my theoretical work in the first two major themes described above, I have several completed and ongoing research projects that investigate these globalization processes and development outcomes of Asian firms. I completed a major monograph to advance the debate on developmental states and changing firm-state relations in Asia. It was published by Cornell University Press in May 2016 as Strategic Coupling: East Asian Industrial Transformation in the New Global Economy (Cornell Studies in Political Economy Series; Prelims and ToC here. Edited by Peter Katzenstein, this renowned book series publishes only a few books each year and Cornell UP is widely recognized in Political Science as the top three publisher in comparative politics and international relations. This Cornell UP book has since received favourable reviews in Foreign Affairs, Regional Studies, and other academic journals. In his March 2018 review for Regional Studies (ranked 14th by CIF in Geography, 2019 JCR), Professor Kevin Morgan, one of the world's leading and highly cited scholars in regional economic development, compares favourably my work to the likes of Professor Robert Wade (LSE) who is one of the leading proponents of the developmental state thesis:
"One of the many great merits of this book is that it brings together a rich amalgam of theory and empirical evidence to bear on the concept of the developmental state, a concept that tends to be uncritically invoked rather than critically analysed in large swathes of the economic development literature, particularly in the so-called radical literature. However, the overarching concept in this book is not the developmental state but the concept of strategic coupling, which is designed to recast the dominant state-centric view of industrial transformation in South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore... Yeung is a worthy heir to the likes of Wade because he can legitimately claim to have made some original contributions of his own by addressing the debilitating state-centricity of the original thesis" (Vol.52:3, p.458).
My book was also featured in an Author-Meets-Critics session at the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) in Kyoto, June 2018. By July 2021, the book had achieved some good impact and received over 215 citations on Google Scholar and 110 citations on ISI WoS. In connection with my work on global production networks and my previous role in the JY Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre, I expect to develop much more this line of research and to enable NUS to become the leading centre for comparative research into the political economy of East Asian development.
Department of Geography
National University of Singapore
1 Arts Link, Singapore 117570
Office: (65) 6516-6810; Fax: (65) 777-3091
Email: HenryYeung@nus.edu.sg; Homepage: http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/geoywc/henry.htm