Bio: Sonia Wong has been a research assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Economics and Business since 1999. She teaches courses on the economics of business strategy and the business environment of the People’s Republic of China. Her research focuses on the reforms in China’s financial sector. She is particularly interested in applying political economy and endogenous institutional change theories to study the evolution of financial reforms. She has published papers on the evolution of China’s foreign exchange and foreign trade reforms, and the competitive conditions of the country’s banking industry.
Her other main interest is the issue of political control in corporate governance. During the past two years, she has devoted herself to investigating the issue of political control in decision making at the level of the firm. She has published a paper that provides systematic evidence of how market power and private power constrain the political control exercised by the grassroots organization of the Chinese Communist Party among China’s listed firms. She also finished a paper on the relationship between political control and firm performance, another paper on the performance implications of managerial discretion under the existence of political control, and a third on the relationship of shareholding structure and the depoliticization of decision making in firms. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Hong Kong in 1999.
Expertise: The Development of China’s Stock Market
Fellowship Focus: Sonia Wong’s Batten Fellowship involves a research project with her faculty host, Wei Li, on the creation of a stock market in China during the country’s transition from a centrally planned to a market-oriented economy. Tracing the development of the stock market since its informal inception in the 1980s, the two will analyze how China’s stock market has been developed in an economy where the state has remained the dominant asset owner and has retained its monopolistic control over the financial sector. They will show how China’s economic and political institutions defined the opportunities and limits for the market’s evolution and how the market has been constructed to further state rather than private interests. Nevertheless, private investors and entrepreneurs have also benefited from increased investment opportunities, and the birth of the stock market has transformed the Chinese economy by helping entrepreneurs, firms, and the government raise risk capital, and by helping individuals realize better risk-adjusted returns on their investment portfolios. Through their investigation of the genesis of China’s financial market, they hope to contribute to our understanding of China’s economic development and of capitalism, more broadly.
The project will yield two main outputs: a teaching case and a research paper for publication in a refereed journal and for a conference. Additional outputs include a comprehensive data set on the history of China’s financial markets and a rich data set on China’s securities industry. Professor Wong and Professor Li plan to use these data in future projects.