Accessibility statement

Social Policy East Asia eXchange (SPEAX)‌

Nara Park, Japan - Photo CC-BY

Jeonju, South Korea. Photo (cc)

Singapore. Photo (cc)


The Social Policy East Asia eXchange (SPEAX), based within the School for Business and Society at York, coordinates research, teaching and collaborative activities within the areas of social and public policy, social work and public management in East Asia.

SPEAX acts as a focal point for our collaborations with scholars in East Asia, its primary goal being to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, research, staff and students between East Asia and the University of York in areas relating to social policy, social work, public policy and public management.

The network feeds into a broader comparative and international social policy research cluster within the Department and its work also shapes the delivery of postgraduate programmes at MA, MPA and PhD level.

Key relations include mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.


  • Email:
  • Post: SPEAX, School for Business and Society, University of York, York, UK. YO10 5DD.

Research & Consultancy

Staff in the School for Business and Society are involved in a wide range of projects that examine Social and Public Policy and Public Management in East Asia. Many are in involved in collaborative research projects with social and public policy scholars based in East Asia. Examples of recent and ongoing projects include:

Typologies of Welfare and Welfare Regimes

Productive Welfarism. Professor John Hudson has undertaken a number of projects examining the extent to which welfare systems in East Asia and beyond might be viewed as focused on productive – rather than protective – welfare functions. This work has included high income OECD states – including Japan and South Korea – along with a wider set of East and South East Asian cases including mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

Welfare Regimes in Greater China. Professor John Hudson contributed to a project that examined welfare regimes in Greater China. This project included a book (edited by Ka Ho Mok and Maggie Lau) and a special issue of the journal Social Policy & Society (edited by Ka Ho Mok and John Hudson).

International and Global Influences on Policy

Culture and Welfare. Professor John Hudson was funded from the Economic and Social Research Council for a comparative analysis of the impact of culture on welfare states (with Dr Nam K Jo, Sungkonghoe University, South Korea and Dr Antonia Keung).  The work was published as Culture and the Politics of Welfare: Exploring societal values and social choices (2015) Palgrave Macmillan.

Medical Travel and Trade in Health Services. Professor Neil Lunt received funding from the British Academy for a project on 'East Asian and European Insights on Global Medical Travel' (with Prof Ki Nam Jin of Yonsei University in South Korea).  Professor Lunt and Dr Daniel Horsfall edited the Elgar Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility, which included a number of East Asian contributions.  

Research methods. A number of SPEAX members, including Professor Ian Shaw, Professor Neil Lunt, Professor John Hudson, Dr Dan Horsfall and Dr Antonios Roumpakis, have explored concepts and practices relating to East Asian social research (both quantitative and qualitative).  

Corporations and Welfare. Dr Chris Holden’s work on the role of the tobacco industry in shaping public health policies has included studies of the tobacco industry’s role in China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation and in market liberalisation in South Korea.

Policy Transfer and Policy Learning. Professor John Hudson and Dr Bo-Yung Kim (Yeungnam University, South Korea) collaborated on a project examining cross-national lesson drawing from the UK to South Korea. This work has focused in particular on the role of official study tours ('policy tourism') in cross-national lesson drawing.

Global Cities and Welfare. Professor Hudson's work has examined the impact of global cities on welfare and welfare states, and involved partners in Hong Kong, mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, the USA and Australia.

Development of Policy, Specific Policy Sectors

Family Policy. John Hudson  (with Dr Stefan Kühner) undertook work for the OECD examining the relative impact of cash benefits and in-kind services on family policy outcomes. This work includes all high-income OECD states including Japan and South Korea. Dr Antonios Roumpakis (with Theodoros Papadopoulos) explored the role of the family as both a welfare provider and an economic actor for East and South East Asian welfare capitalisms. Their research explored recent trends on the ‘financialisation of everyday life’ and utilised available comparative data on household expenditure and debt borrowing.

Politics of Social Policy in East Asia. Dr Sabrina Chai, with Dr Xiongwei Song of the Chinese Academy of Governance, has completed a project on political reform strategies in China. Professor John Hudson and Dr Gyu-Jin Hwang (University of Sydney) collaborated on research exploring the politics of social policy development in East Asia, which examined the historical development of social policy in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Pensions. A number of SPEAX members, including Kevin Caraher and Antonios Roumpakis, have a long standing interest and expertise on pension reforms in East Asia and in particular aspects of pension fund governance. Antonios has supervised PhD projects on Korean pension reform; comparative pension reforms and poverty reduction strategies in OECD and East Asia.

Housing Policy. As a former long term resident of Japan, Dr Joanne Bretherton has a long-standing interest in Japanese social policy, in particular, homelessness, housing exclusion and the gender dynamics of housing precarity. She has worked with colleagues at Nagoya Chukyo University and Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, among others. In 2009 Joanne was a Visiting Fellow on the Japan Society to Promote Science (JSPS) scholarship scheme, during which time she undertook comparative research in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.  Joanne is Co-Director of the Women's Homelessness in Europe Network, a collaboration led by York and Trinity College, Dublin. 

Health and Social Care. The Social Policy Research Unit is a nationally and internationally recognised centre for the evaluation of interventions in practice and policy in health and social care settings across the life course. With expertise in applied evaluative and implementation research we employ multiple methods including reviews, quantitative and qualitative methods to contribute to the evidence base in health and social care. Service users and carers are at the heart of their work.  Building on 40 years of experience the Unit has begun to explore more comparative work examining aspects of social isolation and loneliness in older people in China and developing collaborations with colleagues across Asia to further explore applied practice and policy research. 

Dementia Care
Dr Sabrina Chai and colleagues at Stirling University (Dr Vikki McCall), Renmin University (Professor Nala and Profesor Na Wei), Shenzhen University (A/Prof Yong Tang) and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Dr Elsie Yan) are collaborating on dementia care network. This network explores housing and service sectors to support dementia care within China. The network is developing comparative theoretical and methodological resources for supporting community-based models of dementia/elderly care at an international level. 

Public Sector Management. Professor Neil Lunt has examined Human Resource Management in the Korean Civil Service with Dr SungHee Park (formerly MOPAS, now United Nations), including the impacts of public management reforms.

Global Crime. Dr Gernot Klantschnig's current research and publications focus on crime and drugs and their role in broader debates about development, the state and health in Africa, China and globally. He recently completed a British Academy-funded project on the politics of ‘fake prescription drugs’ in West Africa and a related Chinese government-funded project on China’s growing economic and political engagement with Africa in the pharmaceutical sector.

Recent Consultancy Activity

East-Asian projects have included:

British Academy Writing Workshops 2021 - Social Welfare for Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia. The Writing Workshops, funded by The British Academy, is a collaboration of the University of York (UK), Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia), Thammasat University (Thailand) and Huachiew Chalermprakiet University (Thailand).

Covid, Social Security and Labour Market Responses: Implications for inequality (Xóchitl Gil Camacho, Eriko Aono, Professor John Hudson and Professor Neil Lunt, report commissioned by the Korea Institute of Health Social Affairs (November 2020)

Reforming Social Security: Conditionality, Service Support and Universal Credit (Professor John Hudson and Professor Neil Lunt, report commissioned by the Korean Institute of Health and Social Affairs) (January 2015)

Lunt, N. (2015) A commission from the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges, Ministry of Commerce, as part of the project Governance for Equitable Development: Strengthening the Rule of Law and Civil Society Participation in China, report commissioned on Public Service Markets.

Horsfall, D. and Lunt, N. (2014) ‘Export of Healthcare Service: a review’. A Report undertaken for the Korean Health Industry Development Institute.


Recent relevant publications by staff in the School for Business and Society include:


Staff within the School for Business and Society

Members of staff with research and teaching interests within the field of East Asian social and public policy and public management include:

Current and recent PhD students

  • Ka Wo Fung - Public healthcare governance in Hong Kong.
  • Ling Ge - How to accommodate informal settlements' dwellers in Beijing.
  • Binrui Zhen - Is China moving towards a welfare state?
  • Fei Fang - Exploring “Shi Du” parents’ experience of death of their child.
  • Shimeng Yin - Inequality in China’s current pension system: analysing urban-rural difference and the gender gap.
  • Jiuen Lee - The trends of pension reforms strategies in the OECD.
  • Kyunghwan Kim - East Asian welfare and immigration regimes: Comparing Japan and South Korea.
  • Hyungyung Moon - Tracing the process of institutional change: the case of the National Pension Scheme Reforms in South Korea.
  • Ikhyun Jang - The distributive impact of new welfare policies in the context of old welfare institutions: A multilevel analysis of income inequality across OECD countries.
  • Eunkyung Shin - Understanding Institutional Changes Towards Decentralised Governance.
  • Long Yin Chan - Evaluating the use of the Public Rental Housing (PRH) as a major instrument in providing affordable housing: a case study of Hong Kong.
  • Yong-Chang Heo - A comparative historical study of housing policy in Korea and Singapore.
  • Hongsok Jeon - The diversity of the development of e-government initiatives based on comparative perspective: the UK, Korea and India.
  • Miyang Jun - Lone parent families' transition from welfare to work.
  • Mi Yong Ko - A study on mental health service delivery systems focusing on integration of mental health and social care in Korea.
  • Mina Lee - Work-life balance policies for working mothers in Korea.
  • Seung Eun Lee - The effect of the structure of social expenditure on the Korean welfare system – focusing on the benefits for the disabled.
  • Weijun Li - Developing a pension system for new social risks: practice, experience and vision in Greater China.
  • Yeunsook Rho - Healthcare marketization and equity of the healthcare system in Korea.
  • Tian Tian - Parenting style and the status of parent-child maltreatment: a case study on the high intelligentsia family in China.
  • Nan Yang – Welfare Typologies and East Asia.
  • Wai Kwan Yu - Social life of older people living alone in Hong Kong.
  • Lei Zhang - Bringing China into Comparative Welfare Research: Pension reform in China - A historical institutionalist case study.
  • Xiaoyu Zhai - Central-local relations in China, and its impacts on healthcare policy.
  • Takahiro Asano - Continuing education for professional development in Japanese social work.
  • Sui Ting Kong - Participatory development of post-separation domestic violence services: A cooperative grounded inquiry with abused women and their teenage children in Hong Kong.


Recent conferences and seminars participation, hosting or co-hosting by York

February 2021: Exporting K- quarantine: Korea’s promotion of its COVID management strategy

Dr Juliette Schwak (Franklin University) and Professor Ki Nam Jin (Yonsei University).

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Korea has initially been one of the few countries to limit the spread of the disease. Many state leaders have turned to the Moon government to ask for help in dealing with the health crisis. The Korean government has expressed its formula for fighting the disease as ‘trace, test and treat’ (TTT), and it is currently devising a strategy to export this approach through the ‘K-Quarantine’ model. The session explored how the export of ‘K-Quarantine’ fits Moon Jae-in’s strategy of technological leadership and how it responds to Korean administrations’ decades-old export of Korea’s economic development experience. ‘K-quarantine’ is also a commercial strategy to secure markets for Korea’s health industries, and a promotional strategy in line with Korea’s competitiveness and nation branding concerns.

November 2020: Coronavirus and work-style reform in Japan: urgent need for digitalization

Dr Hiroaki Richard Watanabe, University of Sheffield.  In this talk, Dr Watanabe discussed the “work-style reform” introduced by former Prime Minister Abe of the LDP in 2018. He then examined why the LDP government had trouble in promoting flexible work-style such as telework (work from home) amid the coronavirus pandemic by examining the barriers to digitalization.

August 2018: Long-term Care Reforms in Taiwan and mainland China 

A morning workshop exploring social care challenges and policy developments in Taiwan and mainland China.  Presenters were Dr Jack Chan (A/Professor, School of Government, Sun Yat-sen University), Dr Chieh-hsiu Liu (PhD candidate, Department of Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford University), Miss Cheng Shi, PhD candidate (Renmin University, LSE).

The workshop was chaired by Prof Xinping Guan (Professor and Dean, Department of Social Work & Social Policy, Nankai University; Chair, Chinese Social Policy Committee). 

July 2018: The future of social policy research in East Asia and UK’

Workshop organised by the Department of Social Policy & Social Work,
Centre for Research in Comparative and Global Social Policy, SPEAX, EASP and SPA. July 10th.

April 2018:  Global Social Policy Conference organised by KIHASA

Professor John Hudson and Professor Neil Lunt gave presentations (Professor Hudson - Cash assistance and in-kind transfer programs; Professor Neil Lunt - Trends and challenges for General Practice in the New NHS) at an event hosted by KIHASA in Sejong City.

April 2018: "The future of the welfare state and inclusive growth: emerging issues from the UK"

Professor John Hudson and Professor Neil Lunt spoke at the seminar hosted by the Seoul Institute.

April 2018: "Social Investment in Transition"

Professor John Hudson and Professor Neil Lunt spoke at the seminar hosted by the Institute for Welfare State Research, Yonsei University.

September 2017: Pensions in East Asia 

Workshop organised by the Department of Social Policy & Social Work, Centre for Research in Comparative and Global Social Policy, SPEAX, 20 September.

July 2017: 13th EASP Annual Conference : Social Policy and Gender in East Asia The Institute for Social Welfare Research, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea.
A. Roumpakis & Xinide: 'Towards a gendered welfare state typology: a comparative analysis of selected OECD and East Asian welfare states’ 
Papadopoulos T. & A. Roumpakis: 'Exploring the institutional foundations for family provision in South Europe and South East Asia’
January 2016: “Innovation in Health Service Delivery: Enhancing Trade and Creating Value in the Asia-Pacific Region”. 

Dr Dan Horsfall and Dr Neil Lunt spoke at the event organised by the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University and the Hong Kong APEC Study Centre (APECSC) at The Hong Kong Institute of Education.

April 2015: The Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd): The global alliance for education change and social development],  Hong Kong SAR.

A. Roumpakis: 'Exploring the Institutional Conditions for Family Provision in South Europe and East Asia’


April 2015: Researching/ in Asia: Concepts, values and practices: day workshop, Event organised in collaboration with DTC Pathways (Social Policy, Education, Sociology) and CWS.

December 2014: SPEAX Seminar  'Using two interpretations of defamilisation to build a framework for comparing family policies in the East and the West' by Dr Sam Yu, Department of Social Work at Hong Kong Baptist University

March 2014: SPEAX Roundtable on welfare reform: hosting a delegation drawn from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, Korea Central Self-Sufficiency Foundation and Korea Ministry of Safety and Public Administration). 

February 2014: SPEAX Seminar: 'Community Wellness and Liveable Cities', Professor Ki Nam Jin and various University of York speakers. 

January 2014: SPEAX Seminar: ‘On the Path Towards a Universal Welfare State in Korea During the Decade of Democratic Governments (1998-2008): an exceptional period for the Korean welfare state?', Professor Tae Soo Lee.  

December 2013: SPEAX Seminar: 'Challenges and developments in the voluntary sector', Dr Neil Lunt and Dr Kate Brown. 

December 2013: Five members of SPSW visited Hong Kong to participate in the International Conference on Policy Learning and Policy Transfer in Asia. Further details. 

November 2013: the Korea Institute of Public Administration (KIPA) visited the department to discuss opportunities for research linkages and staff exchange. Further details.

October 2012: staff from Yonsei University, York and Leeds Universities attended a one day workshop on medical tourism.

July 2012: the joint East Asian Social Policy Research Network/UK Social Policy Association Annual Conference was organised by the Department of Social Policy & Social Work at York. This three day conference brought together two of the biggest academic association for social policy scholars and was one of the biggest social policy conferences held in the UK. Further details.

April 2012: the York-Korea Social and Public Policy Seminar. This one day workshop took place in Seoul, with staff from York, Ewha Womans University (co-host), Sogang University, Yonsei University, Sungkonghoe Unviersity, Namseoul University, MOPAS, Sahmyoo University.

July 2009: Global Cities and Social Policy Workshop. This two-day workshop included participants from York, Sydney (Australia), Sun Yat-sen (China) and Ewha Womans University (Korea).

April 2008: York-Nanjing Social Policy Seminar. This two-day workshop took place in Nanjing and featured participants from both universities who share membership of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN).


Masters programmes

Research students

We have a diverse PhD community, welcoming students from a range of backgrounds and countries with different levels of experience and expertise.

  • PhD programme
  • PhD supervisors in the Department
  • Current PhD students