SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Weiwei Chen

BA (CCIT, China), MSc in Development Studies (SOAS)
  • Research
  • Publications

Overview

Weiwei Chen
Name:
Weiwei Chen
Email address:
Thesis title:
The Dynamics of Chinese Private OFDI in Ethiopia: A Comparison of Light Manufacturing Industry and Construction Materials Industry
Year of Study:
4
Website:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/weiwei-chen-56127774/
Internal Supervisors

Biography

Weiwei is a PhD candidate in Development Studies at SOAS.

Prior to her PhD at SOAS, she worked for the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) in Germany and the Chinese Embassy in the UK. Weiwei worked as the research assistant for the Principal Investigator, Prof. Carlos Oya in a 4-year international collaborative academic research project on ‘Chinese Firms and Employment Dynamics in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comparative Analysis’, funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) and Economic Social Research Council (ESRC) (2015/19). She has been conducting fieldwork in both Angola and Ethiopia since 2015. Research undertaken so far has led to a deep understanding of the ecosystem and the way that Chinese firms operate in SSA.

Weiwei was affiliated with the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) as the Chinese Investment Advisor between Oct 2017 and Sep 2018. Her work for the EIC included receiving high officials, delegates and potential investors (both Chinese and International); observation of the EIC One-Stop Service Station and Industry Park Developers in selected industrial parks; and exploring characteristics and investment trajectories of Chinese firms within and outside of industrial parks.
Weiwei was also the National Research Consultant of International Trade Center (ITC) for the Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa and in the Pacific (PIGA) project during her fieldwork in Ethiopia (2018). Weiwei took charge of conducting surveys with a wide range of Chinese firms in the light manufacturing and the agro-processing sectors and producing reports for ITC headquarters in Geneva.

Weiwei completed her PhD fellowship at UNU-WIDER (Sep-Nov 2019) in Helinsky, Finland to work on ""The Political Economy of Chinese Investment in Ethiopia: A Case Study of the Eastern Industry Park"" (pending for publication).

Currently, she is doing a 15-month ESRC-funded project on “Learning to Manage the Factory Floor in Ethiopia: Skills, Work Cultures and Organisational Capabilities in Ethiopia’s Light Manufacturing” led by Prof Carlos Oya.

PhD Research

This research will look at a micro-firm level, comparing different types of Chinese private firms that are prominent in Ethiopia’s light manufacturing industry and construction material industry to explore the nature and dynamics of Chinese private OFDI in Ethiopia.

A mixed research method, mainly qualitative (comparative ethnographic study in particular) and some quantitative research (statistical analysis) will be undertaken to ensure that not only firm-level behaviour but also their linkages with the state, government policy and institutional context will be studied in-depth.

PhD fieldwork was conducted between Oct 2017 and Sep 2018. Factory visits with inspection of main production facilities; semi-structural interviews with senior management, factory management, respective and workplace representatives; management-level survey; life stories; and participant observation were key activities .

Information collected through qualitative methods, semi-structured interviews and life histories can be subjective. Taking purely ethnographic studies might produce a reportage-like result. Thus, quantitative analysis (statistical analysis) will be conducted as well to analyse a vast source of primary and secondary data (both aggregated and disaggregated) related to Chinese private OFDI in Ethiopia could be helpful to mitigate this potential ‘bias’.

A comparison of observable data and real practices can show tensions, contradictions and relationships, thus ensuring the research to be analytical and balanced.

Publications

  • "Solving the PhD puzzle: My experience as a visiting PhD Fellow", March 2020, UNU-WIDER blog
  • 陈卫炜 (2018) “中国在埃塞俄比亚私人投资报告(2017-2018)”,《非洲地区发展报告(2017/2018)》卷“非洲地区经济与民生发展态势”篇,浙江师范大学非洲研究院
    (Translated version) Chen, W. (2018) “Report on Chinese Private Foreign Direct Investment in Ethiopia (2017/18)” in African Regional Development Report (2017/18), African Studies Institute, Zhejiang Normal University [Publication]
  • 陈卫炜 (2018). “埃塞俄比亚东方工业园报告”,中国国家发改委非洲司 [内部文件] (Translated version) Chen, W. (2018). “Report on the Eastern Industry Zone”, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), 2018 [Internal]
  • Chen, W. 2018. The Ethiopian Case Study in Manufacturing for Growth and Development on the Continent, “2019 CHINA-AFRICA JOINT RESEARCH AND EXCHANGE SEMINAR REPORT”, HSRC, 2018

Conferences

  • 'Perception and Realisation: Experience and Lessons from My fieldwork in Ethiopia' in Workshop on Chinese positionality: A reflexive discussion on conducting research in Africa, Jan17th, 2020, SOAS, London, UK [Unpublished]
  • 'The Political Economy of the Chinese Private Investment in Ethiopia: A Case Study of Eastern Industry Park', Oxford Talk,Feb19th 2019,Oxford University, Oxford, UK [Unpublished]
  • 'The Political Economy of the Chinese Investment in Ethiopia’s Developmental State’, FCO Briefing, 20th December 2018, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London, UK [Internal]
  • 'Exploring the Dynamics between the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), the Chinese Business Institutional Mechanism and Tacit Networks in Chinese Private Investment in Ethiopia’ (revised version)’
  • 'Ethiopian Studies Conference, 18th December 2018, University of Edinburgh, UK [Unpublished]
  • 'Exploring the Dynamics between the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), the Chinese Business Institutional Mechanism and Tacit Networks in Chinese Private Investment in Ethiopia’, ASAUK conference, 13th September 2018, University of Birmingham, UK [Unpublished]
  • 'The Dynamics of Chinese Private Investment in Ethiopia: Realities and It's Political Economic Implications towards Ethiopia’s Structural Transformation’, ASAUK conference, 13th September 2018, University of Birmingham, UK [Unpublished]
  • 'The Ethiopian Case Study in Manufacturing for Growth and Development on the Continent’, China-Africa Joint Research & Exchange Seminar, 8th June 2018, The HSRC & The Chinese Embassy in South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa [Published]

Affiliations

  • Royal African Society
  • SOAS Research Students' Association
  • UNU-WIDER
  • Ethiopian Investment Commission (2017/18)

Research

Weiwei's academic interests include Chinese Small-Medium Enterprises' (SMEs) internationalisation, Chinese Private Foreign Direct Investment (OFDI) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Publications