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Course Description

China is the world’s second largest economy and the U.S.’s biggest trading partner. For twenty years, it grew at 10% per year, a streak so unusual for a large economy that it was coined the “Chinese growth miracle”. Miracles do not last forever. In the past few years, the inevitable slowdown of growth has started to happen, and it has bene complicated by trade wars, the COVID global pandemic and geopolitics. This makes China, one of the world’s most important economies, largest consumer markets and production centers, also one of the most complicated places. To be effective and navigate the increasingly complicated landscape, future business leaders need to understand the Chinese economy, culture, history, politics, as well as its complicated relationship with other countries. Such deep and subtle understanding can only be achieved with the combination of coursework and in-country experience, where you can complement book knowledge with empathy built on in-person interactions and common experiences with people working and living in China.

The goal of this class is to provide such understanding and experiences. We will seek to understand the deep links between current economic issues and China’s history, politics, and culture. Here are some examples of questions that we address.

• What are the main difficulties that Chinese or international companies working in or with China face today? How do they overcome them?
• What does a state owned or privately owned firm in China look like? How is it different from a private international firm?
• How did China transition from a state-owned command economy to a quasi-private market economy? What does capitalism look like in China?
• What is the future of Chinese labor supply, and how is it related to the One Child Policy the rapidly aging population, and youth unemployment?
• How are current Chinese economic policies underpinned by historical experiences during he Great Leap Forward (1958-61) or the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), which closed schools and caused other disruptions for ten years, and how do they influence the Chinese economy today?
• How does rural-urban income and wealth inequality influence Chinese economic development?
• What are the motivations behind China’s stringent rural-urban migration restrictions and how do these influence economic development?


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Faculty and advisor bios

Faculty bio

Nancy Qian is the James J. O'Connor Professor of Economics at Kellogg and a professor of the Department of Economics by courtesy appointment. She co-directs the Global Poverty Research lab, and founded China Econ Lab, an independent international organization that promotes rigorous research about the Chinese Economy. For her Bachelor's degree, she studied economics, Japanese, mathematics, government and minored in Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from MIT and was a Harvard Academy post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center of Government. She was an Associate Professor at the Dept. of Economics at Yale University prior to Kellogg. Nancy has native fluency in Chinese (Mandarin, Shanghainese) and English, working ability of Japanese, Spanish and rudimentary Russian.

Professor Qian's research investigates the drivers of long-run economic, culture and political evolution. She has studied the causes and consequences of formal institutions, such as elections, and cultural norms, and gender preference and racial identity. She uses theory-driven frameworks and empirical evidence to resolve historical puzzles, such as the causes of the Great Chinese and Soviet Famines, or the presence of local democracy within autocratic regimes. Her work spans many current and historical contexts such as China, the United States, former Eastern Bloc countries and sub-Saharan Africa.

She is passionate about using research to address real-world problems and using higher education to encourage the personal and intellectual developments of students. At Northwestern, she has taught classes for MBAs (fulltime, evening and weekend, MSMS), EMBAs, Executive Educaion and Ph.D. students. Prior to Northwestern, she also taught undergraduates.

Her work has been published in top academic journals and featured in media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio. She is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, as well the recipient of many prestigious awards and grants. She serves in several editorial positions and has consulted for agencies such as The World Bank, the Global Development Network and the China Development Bank.

She regularly contributes opinion columns for outlets such as Bloomberg or Project Syndicate, appears on news outlets such NPR and CNN, and is working on her first book, which is planned for publication in 2023 with the University of Chicago Press.

Advisor bio

Matthew Temple is the Senior Director of Alumni Career Services for the Kellogg School of Management, where he manages a team of eight people who deliver career services to 50,000 alumni globally. He has counseled full-time, part-time and executive MBA students and alumni on a range of career issues including self-assessment, company and industry research, networking, resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, negotiating, decision-making, onboarding, performance evaluations and starting/buying a business. Matthew has conducted hundreds of career workshops, helped organize international career treks and advised companies on recruiting strategies. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, and The Chicago Tribune. He has worked as a career counselor with Harvard Business School and the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Matthew has coached executives on leadership, communications and career management at companies including Amazon, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, Ford, GE, Goldman Sachs, Google, JP Morgan Chase, McKinsey, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

Previously, Matthew served as the director of international business development for, where he helped establish and manage joint ventures worth over US$200 million in Asia, Europe and Latin America with Carlton Communications, Granada Media (ITV) and Univision. He worked in private equity, M&A and corporate finance for Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank and in consulting for Andersen Consulting. He has lived and worked in Hong Kong and London. Matthew holds a B.A. in European History from Harvard University and an MBA in Finance, Marketing, and Organizational Behavior from Kellogg School of Management. He’s also a diehard Boston Red Sox fan and a Jeopardy champion.