Appointment of Long Institute Academic Director

Professor Benjamin van Rooij has been appointed as the academic director of the John S. and Marilyn Long US-China Institute for Business and Law. Professor van Rooij will concurrently serve as the John S. and Marilyn Long endowed Chair of US-China Business and Law at the School of Law.

Van Rooij is a renowned scholar of Chinese law and regulation in a comparative perspective. Prior to UC Irvine, he has been a tenured chair in Chinese Law and Regulation at the University of Amsterdam School of Law, where he founded and directed the Netherlands China Law Centre. He holds multiple degrees in both law (LLB and LLM) and Chinese Language and Cultures (BA and MA) from Leiden University. Also he has obtained a cum laude PhD from Leiden in the field of law and regulation. He has also been a member of New York University School of Law’s Global Faculty, visiting there in 2010. His work has been published in leading journals including Regulation & Governance, Law & Policy, the Columbia Journal of Asian Law, the China Journal, the Journal of Environmental Management, and Environment and Planning A.

Van Rooij’s work centers on how law and business interact and how regulatory rules shape economic behavior. A core theme in his research is the study of compliance, analyzing both how law enforcement by state and other actors is organized, as well as how business responds to regulation and what drives both compliant and violating behavior. His work covers issues including environmental regulation, zoning, labor and worker safety, food safety, and taxes.  In his work, China features as a comparative case used to critically examine existing theories about compliance that have predominantly been developed through studies in Western settings.

At the Long Institute, Van Rooij will use his expertise and experience in coordinating and executing a comparative and interdisciplinary research program about law and business in China. He seeks to develop two or three core themes where the Long Institute can play a leading role both in research and knowledge dissemination. The themes will be selected on the basis of the existing expertise at the Business and Law Schools, as well as more broadly on the UCI campus.

Compliance management will be one of these themes, as it allows for an ideal window to study law and business and also draw out comparative lessons about China and the US that are of interest both to academia and practice. In the first years the ongoing research will yield unique insights into what shapes compliance in diverse Chinese sectors including food and catering, agriculture, construction, and legal service provision. Van Rooij and his associated researchers have been carrying groundbreaking in-depth case studies, working both within Chinese firms as well as with governmental regulators. On the basis of this, at a later stage, it is planned to start a Compliance Action Laboratory where ideas from these studies and from the existing literature about how compliance can be better managed will be tested systematically in both Chinese and US settings.

By involving faculty both from business and law, and hopefully also from other disciplines including political science, sociology, criminology and history Van Rooij hopes to build a unique approach of study at the Long Institute. There is great potential there given the number of scholars at UCI with a comparative interest in aspects of law and business in China and the US. Moreover Van Rooij will involve several of his most talented current PhD students in the Long Institute as associated scholars to help build a critical mass focused on selected themes. It is hoped that the research and dissemination activities can build an active and strong academic community at the Long Institute that serves a bridge function both between academia and practice, between law and business and between China and the US.