Ongoing Research Projects

Ongoing Research Projects

Research at the LKY School addresses real-world policy challenges and explores and advances theoretical concepts across four broad areas: Policy Studies, Public Management and Governance; Social Policy; International Relations and Global Governance; and Economic Development and Competitiveness.

Our research is supported by a variety of sources, including highly competitive external grants from local and international funders.

International Relations and Global Governance

Academics in this cluster study the power shifts taking place globally and in Asia and the implications of the shifts for regional and global security and stability.

Grant Period : Aug 2016 to Aug 2019

Faculty : LEONG, Ching

By the year 2025 water will be the major share of global infrastructure investment in the world. by then, for the OECD countries and for the BRIC countries water infrastructure spending will reach $1 trillion. Currently, approximately $200 billion is spent on water infrastructure. Developing countries focus 70% of water sector spending in capital works for expansion, while middle income countries only focus 20% for that purpose, and the remaining 80% in operations and maintenance of existing water infrastructure.

Investment in water infrastructure comes from the public and the private sector, and from official development assistance. the public sector is the major contributor, and funds 75% of total water supply and sanitation infrastructure costs.

Besides all this significant need and current major efforts in investment in water infrastructure, we still see projects been cancelled, renegotiated or simply found to be unnecessary. This study will answer the question of: why is investment in this sector made in a sub-optimal manner?

Framed within the larger policy theory debates about disproportionate responses in policy making (either under or over reactions), this project studies 5-7 projects where over or under investment is being made, focusing particularly on 1) the amount of investment; 2) analysis of the case, and sources of disproportionality, i.e. questions on utilities policy 3) the role of non-rational factors, including political salience and emotions.

the question on investments in water is often conceived of as a matter of under-investments – i.e. as a matter of lack of public funds. the other question – that of over investment is relatively underexplored. This project investigates instances of disproportionate investments.

In this it has three parts:
1. A modelling study on the optimal level of investments (determined by Grafton’s simple model, 2014)
2. A determination of over or under investment
3. An investigation of narratives on how and why this happened.

Grant Period : Mar 2016 to Sep 2019

Faculty : KHONG, Yuen Foong

The academic holy grail for many students of American foreign policy is to come up with a convincing portrayal of the longue duree of U.S. diplomacy. My project seeks to participate in this conversation by employing the idea of the tributary system—most often associated with China’s international relations from antiquity—to interpret how America relates to the rest of the world.*
My working hypothesis is that the United States has instituted the most successful tributary system the world has ever seen. As the hub or epicenter of the most extensive network of formal and informal alliances ever built, the U.S. offers its allies and partners--or tributaries--military protection as well as economic access to its markets. Through an equally impressive array of international institutions and organizations, many of which it created, the United States transmits and imposes its values and its preferred rules of the game on the international system. the ensuing economic and politico-military “orders” are construed as “public goods” provided by a benign American hegemony. In return for all its exertions, the tribute America seeks is straightforward: first, that it be recognized as the power or hegemon, and second, that others emulate its political forms and ideas. With both tributes in hand, the U.S. finds equanimity; it and the world are safe, at least from the U.S. point of view.
*A preliminary version of the argument was published as “the American Tributary System,” Chinese Journal of International Politics (CJIP), 6:1, 2013, pp. 1-47. This project is an attempt to expand, revise, as well as deepen—conceptually and empirically--the analysis contained in the article in the form of a monograph.

Grant Period : Oct 2016 to Sep 2019

Faculty : QUAH, Danny

World order is the collection of nation states together with understood relations and a distribution of power across them. by most accounts our current world order has two major shortcomings: one, changed circumstances in the world economy mean the current order has become ineffective and indeed possibly a hindrance to economic recovery growth; two, the current system has no inbuilt adjustment mechanism that allow it to change automatically so it might work better. (Many other writers have noted these problems, in varying perspectives and with varying prescriptions for change.) Related cross-national, coordination challenges plague attempts at building smaller, regional orders: Examples include ASEAN and the European Union. What my research seeks is twofold: first, to propose and clarify a number of overarching economic principles by which world and regional order might be reconfigured optimally; second, to provide empirical basis by which those principles might be best designed and implemented. This work will help in understanding and constructing a better and more stable international system to allow all nations to prosper. Related principles are applicable for analyzing regional orders such as ASEAN, the EU, and others.

Grant Period : Feb 2017 to Jan 2020

Faculty :

National leaders around the world are keen to identify ways to induce development of green business clusters. these clusters exemplify the creativity and market promise that many policymakers believe will be central to sustainable economic development in an ever resource constrained world. In response to this, the sustainable urban development project proposed herein is aimed at improving policymaking in support of collaborative multi-stakeholder approaches to green business development. Through 17 case studies grouped into 6 conceptual themes, this project will document system dynamics that occur within collaborative multi-stakeholder green business networks in an attempt to understand stakeholder needs and roles. This will then allow policymakers to design responsive policy that fosters development of these networks and sustains relationship in a way to allow knowledge to effectively diffuse. Insights from this project will contribute to the enhanced operationalization of green business development strategies in urban centers.

Grant Period : Mar 2018 to Dec 2021

Faculty : HO, Selina

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the concept of “peripheral diplomacy,” which signals China’s intentions to refocus on relations with its neighbors. China has a complex relationship with the countries that it shares borders with. In particular, disputes have arisen over resources and territories. How does China manage relations with countries that it shares resources with and those that it has territorial disputes with? Under what conditions are we likely to see a more cooperative China? What are the rules and institutions it seeks to establish as it rises? to answer these questions, this proposal focuses on two specific studies. First, why is China more cooperative with some countries it shares river resources with than others? How does China go about creating institutions and norms to shape the governance of river resources? Second, China and India were engaged in a military standoff at Doklam in 2017. Both sides managed to defuse tensions by diplomatic means. However, there is now talk of a “Doklam II” and reports that Chinese troops had remained at the disputed area. How have China’s and India’s elite perceptions of each other changed since the Doklam standoff? What is the likelihood of military conflict? Under what conditions would war break out?

Grant Period : May 2018 to Mar 2019

Faculty : YODER, Brandon

How can states in the international system credibly signal benign intentions? This question is of particular importance in the contemporary international system, as China's rise has been accompanied by great uncertainty about its future intentions. Credible reassurance is necessary to mitigate the security dilemma, wherein conflict occurs between states with benign intentions due to misplaced fear that the other might be hostile. theoretical work on reassurance has suggested that credible cooperative signals are always available, such that benign states should consistently be able to identify each other and avoid conflict. However, these theories have never been subjected to systematic, generalizable empirical tests, and have been critiqued on the grounds that they do not accurately describe the behavior of real-world actors. We propose to conduct laboratory experiments to test a paradigmatic model of the security dilemma. In addition, we propose preliminary "seed" tests of several novel models that extend the logic of existing models of the security dilemma.

Grant Period : Apr 2018 to Sep 2019

Faculty : MANCINI, Francesco

When it comes to the impact of technology on societal dynamics, the debate is often shaped by the dichotomy between the enthusiasts and the highly pessimistic view that focuses on the threats and disruptions. Not surprisingly, in the field of peace and security studies, research has overwhelmingly focused on the destructive role of new forms of technology, in particular information and communication technologies (ICTs). the last decade has seen a proliferation of research in the areas of cyber-threats, in the use ofICTs for war or genocide propaganda, in the role of internet in spreading extreme violent ideologies, the polarization of societies, and the perpetuation of bias and stereotypes, to name a few examples.
Meanwhile, very little has been said about the role that new technology can play for the transformation and prevention of conflict, to foster peaceful and harmonious societies, and to strengthen security. This study aims to develop a systematic analysis of this nascent field of innovation, exploring the use of different technologies (including, ICTs, social media, gamification, Geographic Information Systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning, big data mining) applied to different areas of what are known conjointly as the field of peace and security, that is the support and implementation of peace processes, conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and societal security, including crime prevention.

Grant Period : Apr 2018 to Sep 2019

Faculty : PANGESTU, Tikki

Major global health challenges require effective global health governance mechanisms to mitigate their ill effects on the world’s populations, especially in the developing world. the key health challenges can be summarized in the acronym ANOCA (antimicrobial resistance, non-communicable diseases, outbreaks of infectious diseases, climate change impacts on health, and ageing societies). the research aims to identify the key technical issues and subsequent policy challenges to governments in these five areas, and the role of international agencies and other stakeholders in providing effective governance frameworks for collective action.