BROKEX is an interdisciplinary research project funded by a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. Heidi Østbø Haugen is the principal investigator (PI). The project will run from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2023. The Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo hosts BROKEX.

Chinese global engagements are deepening across sectors and geographic regions. The objective of BROKEX is to fill specific gaps in knowledge about how China’s extraversion advances. The project takes an original approach by examining brokers who mediate in transnational fields. It opens China’s global integration to analysis by moving beyond descriptions of input and output characteristics to elucidate underlying dynamics.

The PI and three postdoctoral researchers will carry out ethnographic fieldwork in the Pearl River Delta, South China, that yield complementary information on the common challenge of brokering across geographic scales:

1) Connecting low-cost Chinese manufacturing with African markets;
2) Integrating Chinese academic research with global scientific communities;
3) Attracting new foreign investments to China to underpin industrial upgrading (case study funded through Research Council of Norway project);
4) Transnational architecture production.

The cases offer insights into the mechanisms of brokerage across distinctive sectors. We build on the empirical findings and literature to develop brokerage theory. Social scientific research on brokerage commonly uses the morphology of social networks as its starting point, and focuses on how actors positioned at the intersection between groups operate.

BROKEX adopts an innovative approach by examining how actors strategically seek to shape network morphologies in order to bridge gaps between groups. By directing theoretical attention towards relationship formation that precedes acts of brokerage, this line of inquiry advances understandings of how and why brokered connections emerge. Rich empirical data combined with critical theorization will generate new knowledge about the processes beneath the “rise of China” ─ one of the most consequential socioeconomic developments of our times.

BROKEX has expanded!

Our core team is now hired, and the team members have arrived at the University of Oslo. We’re reviewing literature, preparing for the case studies, and deciding on where int eh Pearl River Delta to focus the fieldwork.