Degree completed in 2016.

The economic geography of urban water infrastructure investment and governance - a comparison of Beijing and London


Academic Profile

Yin Yang is currently a DPhil candidate in Economic Geography at the School of Geography and the Environment, and the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, at the University of Oxford. His project is funded by China Scholarship Council. He is also the student member of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) and the postgraduate fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).

Prior to studying at Oxford, Yin obtained a Master's degree in Environmental Engineering with distinction at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), China and a Bachelor's degree in Hydrology and Water Resources with first class honours at Wuhan University, China. While at HUST, his research focused on energy optimization of wastewater treatment process by using numerical simulation and economic evaluation methods.

In addition, Yin is part of the UK Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC) that will inform the analysis, planning and design of national infrastructure, through the development and demonstration of new decision support tools, and working with partners in government and industry. For more information please see the ITRC website.

Academic Profile

At one level, effective and sustainable water services are dependent upon effective institutional structures and regulation. For his DPhil, Yin is trying to find out how the interaction between institutional environment and institutional arrangement varies across space, and how it shapes and/or be shaped by local water service performances, which are central issues of concern in institutional economic geography. Since the private sector takes the lead in water services in London while the public sector does so in Beijing, an interesting pair of comparison studies can be conducted between these two cities with the spatial heterogeneity of the capitalism in infrastructure: liberal capitalism versus state capitalism.

His research will also examine the character of the decision-making environment which plays a definite role in qualifying the infrastructure performance outcomes. By comparing the corporate governance of the water utilities in the two cities, the thesis will study the performance of water infrastructure provision from a firm-level management and organization perspective. Particular attention will be paid to the nature of endogenous institutions which determine the structure of decision-making environments influencing the cost of transferring information among agents.

The research is multi-disciplinary, drawing upon theories and methodologies from economic geography, political economy, law and foundations of organizational strategy.