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 Department of Social Policy and Social Work at York, coordinates research, teaching and collaborative activities within the areas of social and public policy 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, 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, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, York, UK. YO10 5DD.

Research & Consultancy

Staff in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work 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 & Dr Stefan Kühner have 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.

The Competition State Thesis in Comparative Perspective. Dr Sabrina Chai and Dr Dan Horsfall are working on a project examining whether China might be classified as a 'competition state' rather than a ‘welfare state’. This work builds on Dan’s previous comparative analyses of the competition state thesis that has included examination of Japan and South Korea.

Welfare Regimes in Greater China. Professor John Hudson and Dr Stefan Kühner are contributing to a project co-ordinated by Prof Ka Ho Mok (Hong Kong Institute for Education) that examines welfare regimes in Greater China. This project includes a forthcoming book (edited by Ka Ho Mok and Maggie Lau, Hong Kong Institute for Education) 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 has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for a comparative analysis of the impact of culture on welfare states. John will be working with Dr Nam K Jo from Sungkonhoe University in South Korea and Dr Antonia Keung (York) on this project.

Medical Tourism. Professor Neil Lunt received funding from the British Academy for a project on 'East Asian and European Insights on Global Medical Travel'. He will be working closely with Prof Ki Nam Jin of Yonsei University in South Korea.

Corporations and Welfare. Dr Chris Holden’s recent 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) received funding from the Yeungnam University research grants fund for 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. This work, supported by the Worldwide Universities Network, examines the impact of global cities on welfare and welfare states. Professor John Hudson and Dr Stefan Kühner lead on this activity, which has involved partners in Hong Kong, mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, the USA and Australia.

Development of Policy, Specific Policy Sectors

Pensions Policy in China. Professor Neil Lunt received funded from the China International Talent Exchange Foundation to work with Chongqing Technology and Business University on a project examining pension fund management in China. Dr Stefan Kühner and Lei Zhang have also presented research on pension reform processes in China.

Family Policy. Professor John Hudson and Dr Stefan Kühner are currently undertaking 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.

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. Dr John Hudson and Dr Gyu-Jin Hwang (University of Sydney) have recently completed a paper on the politics of social policy development in East Asia, which examined the historical development of social policy in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Provident Funds. Dr Kevin Caraher is undertaking research on the development of provident funds in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Housing Policy. Dr Sabrina Chai is undertaking a project examining home ownership in Shenzen, China. Colleagues in the Department's Centre for Housing Policy have also recently undertaken work examining housing and homelessness in Japan.

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).

Consultancy Projects 2014/15

East-Asian projects have included: Reforming Social Security: Conditionality, Service Support and Universal Credit (Proffesor John Hudson and Professor Neil Lunt, report commissioned by the Korean Institute of Health and Social Affairs)

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.

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


Recent relevant publications by staff in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work include:

  • Park, S. & Lunt, N. (2015). Confucianism and Qualitative Interviewing: Working Seoul to Soul, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 16(2), Art. 7,
  • Lunt, N. and Shaw, I. F. (2015) Developing good practitioner research: An agenda for research commissioners, agencies and practitioners, China Journal of Social Work, 8, 1: 3-16
  • Mok, K.H. and Hudson, J. (2014) 'Managing Social Change and Social Policy in Greater China: Welfare Regimes in Transition?' – themed section of Social Policy & Society, 13: 235-238.
  • Hudson, J. & Kim, B (2014) ‘Exploring Policy Transfer in Practice: a Case Study of UK-Korea Policy Learning Activities’, Policy & Politics, 42 (4), 495-511
  • Hudson, J. Kühner, S. and Yang, N. (2014) ‘Productive Welfare, the East Asian ‘Model’ and Beyond: Placing Welfare Regimes in Greater China into Context’, Social Policy & Society, 13 (2), 301-15.
  • Lunt, N., Jin, K.N., Horsfall, D. and Hanefeld, J. (2014) 'Insights on Medical Tourism: Markets as networks and the role of strong ties', Korean Journal of Social Science, 41, 19-37.
  • Horsfall, D. and Chai, H. (2013) 'Square pegs and round holes: extending existing typologies fails to capture the complexities of Chinese social policy'. Social Policy Review 25.
  • Hudson, J. and Hwang, G. (2013) 'Pathways of welfare state development in East Asia' in Izuhara, M (ed) The Handbook of East Asian Social Policy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Hudson, J. and Kühner, S. (2013) 'Analyzing the Productvist Dimensions of Welfare: Looking beyond Greater China' in Mok, K.H. and Lau, M. (eds) Welfare Regimes in Transition: Managing Social Change and Social Policy in Greater China. Routledge: London. 
  • Caraher, K. (2013) 'Past policies, current arrangements: the enduring influence of British colonial social policy in Malaysia and Hong Kong' in Izuhara, M. (ed) The Handbook on East Asian Social Policy, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.
  • Lunt, N. and Jin, K. N. (2013) 'Developments in medical tourism', China Health Review, 4, 4, 12-19.
  • Hudson, J. (2012) 'Welfare Regimes and Global Cities: a Missing Link in the Comparative Analysis of Welfare States?', Journal of Social Policy, 41, 455-473.
  • Lee, S., Lee, K. and Holden, C. (2012) 'Creating Demand for Foreign Brands in a "Home Run" Market: Tobacco Company Tactics in South Korea Following Market Liberalisation', Tobacco Control, DOI: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050534. 
  • Lunt, N., Mannion, R. and Exworthy, M. (2012) 'A Framework for Exploring the Policy Implications of UK Medical Tourism and International Patient Flows', Social Policy & Administration, Published Online 18 Jan 2012. 
  • Smith, R.D., Legido-Quigley, H., Lunt, N. and Horsfall, D. (2012) 'Medical Tourism the European way', in Hodges, J.R., Turner L. and Kimball A. (eds) Risks and Challenges in Medical Tourism: Understanding the global market for health services, ABC Clio, pp. 37-55.
  • Tang J, Chai H and Wang J (2012), 'Analysis on the Emergence of Homeowners' Self-governance Mechanism and its Sustainability: A Case Study on Residential Community in Shenzhen'. Forthcoming.
  • Hudson, J. and Kühner, S. (2012) 'Analyzing the Productive and Protective Dimensions of Welfare: Looking Beyond the OECD', Social Policy & Administration, 46(1), 35-60.
  • Hudson, J. and Kühner, S. (2011) 'Analysing the Productive Dimensions of Welfare: Looking Beyond East Asia', in Hwang, G. (ed) New Welfare States in East Asia: Global Challenges and Restructuring. London: Edward Elgar, pp35-60.
  • Lunt, N., Smith, R., Exworthy, M., Green, S., Horsfall, D., Mannion, R. (2011) Medical Tourism: Treatments, Markets and Health System Implications A Scoping Review. OECD Health Working Papers, No.57. Paris: OECD.
  • Holden, C., Lee, K., Gilmore, A., Fooks, G. and Wander, N. (2010) 'Trade Policy, Health and Corporate Influence: British American Tobacco and China’s Accession to the World Trade Organization', International Journal of Health Services, 40(3), 421-441.
  • Horsfall, D. (2010) From competition state to competition states? Policy Studies, 31(1), 57-76. First published on 22/7/09 (IFirst).
  • Lunt, N. and Carerra, P. (2010) 'Medical tourism: assessing the evidence on treatment abroad', Maturitas: an International journal of mid-life health, 66, 27-32.
  • Hudson, J. and Kühner, S. (2009) 'Towards Productive Welfare? A Comparative Analysis of 23 Countries', Journal of European Social Policy, 19(1), 34-46.


Staff within the Department of Social Policy and Social Work

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

  • Hyungyung Moon - Tracing the process of institutional change: the case of the National Pension Scheme Reforms in South Korea.
  • Eunkyung Shin - Understanding Institutional Changes Toward 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 - Recalibration on pension system against the new social risks: practice, experience and vision in Greater China.
  • Tuan Nguyen - Vietnam housing policy in the economic transition process: Challenges to an efficient housing market.
  • 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 – Pension Reform in China.
  • Xiaoyu Zhai – Impact of the global economic crisis on welfare in China.


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

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.

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: 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 Univeristy 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 Learnng 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.


Academic staff and Post doctoral researchers from any University working on issues concerned with social policy in East Asia are welcome to join SPEAX as an Academic Visitor. This role will involve no remuneration, but offers you formal attachment to SPEAX within the Department of Social Policy and Social Work and access to research facilities such as the library and the Information Systems Services. The Department assumes that visitors will come to York to pursue their independent research and does not provide or arrange any academic supervision.

Visiting Researcher posts can be awarded from any period from one month to a year. Visiting Researchers will normally be expected to present a paper in one of the SPEAX seminars or events.

For a small fee the department will provide desk space in SPEAX (subject to availability), and access to office, library and computer facilities.

If you are interested in becoming an Academic Visitor in SPEAX please read the information below, including application procedures, facilities, fees and deposits, visa procedures and accommodation arrangements.

Application Procedures

To apply, please prepare the following documents:

  • A letter of application, indicating why you would like to spend time in York.
  • A 2-page CV.
  • A research plan that links to the research themes addressed by SPEAX and the work of staff within the Department of Social Policy and Social Work .
  • A letter of recommendation from your Head of Department or other senior academic who knows you and your work.
  • A clear indication of how you intend to pay for your stay here and the fees.

Once we have accepted you as an Academic Visitor, you will need to submit a deposit to us along with a plan describing your accommodation arrangements while in York.

Please send your application to the Departmental Administrator, Department of Social Policy & Social Work, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, or email


The following are provided for Academic Visitors to SPEAX:

  • University of York email address and limited use of University and Department computing facilities.
  • Use of the University Library.
  • Admission to most relevant lectures and workshops delivered in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work.
  • Admission to research seminars and other public events.
  • Limited free use of the Department's photocopier.
  • Shared academic visitors' room in SPEAX with computing facilities.

Deposit and fees

Academic Visitors spend between three and a maximum of twelve months associated with SPEAX and pay a fee, currently £200 per teaching term, or £500 for a full year. A deposit of £100 is payable two months in advance of arrival, with the balance payable either in advance by post or on arrival. When you have been accepted, the University will send an invoice for the appropriate amount.

Visa procedures

The Department cannot provide advice on visas. For more information on visa applications, please visit the University's Immigration Advice Service website.

If you require a visa to enter the UK it is essential that you seek advice on how to obtain the correct visa to suit the purpose of your visit.

The best time to visit

The academic year at York is divided into three terms. These begin with Autumn term from October to mid December. The Spring term runs from January to March. The Summer term begins in April and ends in June. Term dates are published on the University's website.

The University vacation begins in July and lasts until the beginning of October. Many people are away at this time and the Department provides no teaching or events.

The libraries may also open for shorter hours and may close completely for short periods.

Accommodation arrangements

The Department is unable to help with accommodation. 

Please contact Accommodation Services for more information.