Prof. Dr. Christian Göbel


Prof. Dr. Christian Göbel

Institutional Affiliation:

Professorship for Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Vienna, Austria



Prof. Dr. Christian Göbel is Professor for Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Vienna. His current research is concerned with the political economy of innovation in authoritarian regimes.

Christian was trained in Political Science and Modern China Studies in Erlangen (1993-1995), Taipei (1995-1997), and Heidelberg (1998-2002). In 2002, he received his Master’s Degree after completing a thesis on the consolidation of Taiwan’s democracy.

From April 2003 to May 2008, he was a Lecturer and Research Fellow for Political Science and East Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. In May 2008, he completed his Ph.D. on the Rural Tax and Fee Reform (nongcun shuifei gaige), a series of grassroots-level fiscal and administrative reforms in rural China implemented between 2000 and 2006. Upon receiving his Ph.D., he was appointed Assistant Professor for Politics in East Asia at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Before his appointment at the University of Vienna, he held positions in Lund and Heidelberg.

Christian is the author of "The Politics of Rural Reform in China" (Routledge 2010) and "The Politics of Community Building in Urban China" (Routledge 2011, with Thomas Heberer). In addition, he has published widely on corruption in Taiwan, rural reforms and central-local relations in China, and the consolidation of authoritarian regimes.

Current Research Project

- A new project, started in June 2013, analyzes Taiwan’s corruption and governance improvement for an EU-funded study on global anti-corruption policies.

- Just completed: a research project that analyses the the impact of Taiwan’s change of electoral systems on Taiwan’s local factions. The results are published in the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 3/2012, pp. 69-92 [http://journals.sub.uni-hamburg.de/giga/jcca/article/viewFile/534/532].

Abstract (from the journal)

In 2004, the single non-transferable vote (SNTV) was abol- ished in Taiwan. The SNTV had long been seen as a major factor in the sustenance of county- and township-level clientelist networks (“local factions”). It was also associated with phenomena such as extremism, candidate-centred politics, vote-buying, clientelism and organized crime involvement in politics. More recent scholarship, however, has led to doubts that a single formal institution like an electoral system could have such a powerful influence on electoral mobilization. This article puts these positions to an initial test. It examines the impact of the electoral reform on the mobilization capacity of a local faction in a rural county notorious for its factionalism. By illuminating its intricate mobilization structures, it provides support for the second position: These structures are too resilient to be affected by even a radical electoral reform.