The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program recognizes an exceptional group of both established and emerging scholars, journalists, and authors with the goal of strengthening U.S. democracy, driving technological and cultural creativity, exploring global connections and global ruptures, and improving both natural and human environments.
Yuen Yuen Ang is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow of 2018. Her interdisciplinary research brings together three conventionally separate fields: international development, China’s political economy, and complex adaptive systems.
Professor Ang is the author of How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (2016), winner of the Peter Katzenstein Book Prize in Political Economy, the Viviana Zelizer Best Book in Economic Sociology, awarded by the American Sociological Association, and was named “Best of Books 2017” by Foreign Affairs. She has received grants and awards from the Smith Richardson Foundation, IBM Center for the Business of Government, Gates Foundation, and American Council of Learned Societies. She received her B.A. from Colorado College and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University.“The Carnegie Fellowship will allow me to extend my research to emerging markets and fragile states around the world, such as India, Nigeria, and Afghanistan. Receiving this award is an incredible honor and encouragement. I am deeply grateful to the jurors for believing in this project. “
How will the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program impact your research and overall career?
Ang: My research challenges the traditional linear causal logic underlying the political economy of development: Is it good governance that leads to economic growth, or economic growth that enables good governance? Rejecting this chicken-or-egg debate, my investigation turns to a different question: Where and how do new markets emerge in the absence of good governance or state capacity?
Focusing primarily on the context of China, my earlier research finds a surprising answer: The first step of development is to harness normatively weak/wrong institutions to build markets. Patronage ties, non-Weberian bureaucracies, piracy, and so forth, which we normally dismiss as obstacles to development can actually be repurposed to serve development goals at take-off stages. Canonical theories take on the false appearance of universal theories; in fact, they are theories about wealthy countries, privileging the role of good/strong institutions in preserving markets that are already built. But preserving markets is not the same as building markets. Social scientists know little about how markets emerge when ideal conditions are lacking—yet this is precisely the problem of development.
The Carnegie Fellowship will allow me to extend my research to emerging markets and fragile states around the world, such as India, Nigeria, and Afghanistan. Receiving this award is an incredible honor and encouragement. I am deeply grateful to the jurors for believing in this project.
What research topics do you primarily focus on? How can people access your work?
Ang: My research projects take different cuts, substantively and methodologically, at one central goal—to replace the linear causal view of development with an understanding of development as a mutually adaptive, complex process. You can find my publications on my personal website: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/yy-ang/. I blog for many international development organizations, including the United Nations, World Bank, and OECD Development Center. My op-eds appear in Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, and Project Syndicate.
Do you have any advice for students in political science, including tips on how to find funding and support for research projects?
Ang: My personal experience is to think big but take small steps. Pursue projects that really pique your curiosity. Don’t “compromise” and pursue projects that you think others will like—doing so will likely end up pleasing no one. At the execution stage, it helps to break up your agenda into a series of small, concrete steps. When seeking support for your research, explain how a particular project fits within your larger intellectual schema. Most jurors understand that nobody gets to his or her end point in one step, but they will like to know the destination you have in mind.
- Learn more about Yuen Yuen Ang here.
- See full announcement: Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program Recognizes 31 Scholars