Qiaomei Yang - Public Administration

Qiaomei studies the diffusion and adoption of government microblogging services in China

"This is one of the leading departments in the world in terms of its publication record."

Since September 2014, Qiaomei Yang has been carrying out research on the diffusion and adoption of e-government services in China. The main issue she addresses is how to explain e-government diffusion in China. The wave of modern microblogging in China, similar to hybrids of Twitter and Facebook, has swept the Chinese social interaction network, meanwhile promoting the transformation of the style of Chinese public administration.

Qiaomei obtained her Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Hunan University, China, in 2011. In the same year, she continued her studies at the same university, majoring in Public Administration. “I was interested in encountering different cultures, learning other languages and working with excellent researchers”, Qiaomei says.

Since the start of her graduate education she wanted to analyse and explain public policy and government behaviour abroad. After obtaining her Master’s Degree Qiaomei received funding from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) for four years of PhD research.

In September 2014, she started her PhD project on the diffusion and adaption of government microblogging services in municipal China at Erasmus University. “The official microblog is an emerging phenomenon in contemporary China”, Qiaomei says.

"A clear and unambiguous explanation of patterns of adoption and diffusion by municipalities is lacking."

“This is an innovation in the public sectors for providing comprehensive public services to citizens, allowing people to become more willing to get involved with different kinds of public affairs. This two-way interaction may be helpful to improve the quality of governance in China, a highly relevant and urgent issue for this authoritarian country.”

Hot topic
The study of e-government has been a hot topic during the last twenty years. In the study of e-government within US and European contexts, the focus has been on various types of impact by e-government. Qiaomei: “Studies on the topic of e-government in China tend to focus more on practical exigencies and less on academic, scientific questions.”

Diffusion & adaption
An emerging topic in innovative research within e-government studies seems to be questions concerning the diffusion and adoption of e-government as part of social change. Qiaomei: “Given the subject matter of my larger PhD research project, explanatory or theory-testing studies of e-government in China are of particular interest and importance because, for example, a clear and unambiguous explanation of patterns of adoption and diffusion by municipalities is lacking.” 

Empirical study
Qiaomei initially wanted to do a PhD-project in an English-speaking country, but the Public Administration department at Erasmus University Rotterdam is a reputable world-wide academic centre for e-governance study, which is an intriguing topic for her.

"This is one of the leading departments in the world in terms of its publication record."

Qiaomei thinks the advantage for her of studying in Rotterdam is that she can undertake empirical research on China based on existing Western theories and make her own theoretical contributions to the international academic community through establishing her own conceptual framework.

“I consider myself lucky to be among a group of top researchers here at the Erasmus University. This is one of the leading departments in the world in terms of its publication record. Many most-cited papers in public administration field are produced by researchers in this department.” 

e-governance stories
“Specifically, I want to explain under what conditions interactions between local authorities and Chinese citizens occur and continue. Ideally, I want to evaluate this by specifying the norms in order to judge the quality of interactions, and by looking at the extent to which the Chinese practice compares to best practices.”

“My research is structured to empirically explain the diffusion and adoption mechanisms of government microblogging services in municipal China from an interaction perspective; specifically, to explain the emergence of interaction between public authorities and citizens in relation to microblogging services in China.”

Work-life balance
“Compared to the huge Chinese universities where I sometimes had to travel over half an hour to get from one department to another, the facilities at Erasmus University are very concentrated,” Qiaomei says. “After reading in the library you can easily get to the university sports centre. The canteen and auditorium are also located near the teaching building. It’s very convenient.”

"The Dutch work hard, but they know how to relax as well."

Another thing that surprised her was the way the Dutch combine work and private time. “It’s really impressive,” Qiaomei says. “They’re hardworking but know how to relax as well.” Inspired by this life-work balance she learns to balance her own activities as well: “I like travelling in the weekends and playing sports after work really refreshes me. I also registered for a quarter marathon. Running is a good way to get to know the city.”

Career after graduation
After graduation, Qiaomei wants to continue her research at an academic institute or a public policy consultancy agency. “China is undergoing and will yet undergo huge changes in the future. But the wide use of social media will continue and this is leading to some amazing changes.”

“In the future, I think I will carry out more research on how the use of social media influences and shapes decision-making and governance in China. This must be an attractive and intriguing issue which needs exploring. I believe I will enjoy this!”