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DFG-Project: Regional Agility and Upgrading in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta, China

Project leaders:

  • Prof. Dr. Javier Revilla Diez, Dr. Daniel Schiller (Universität Hannover)
  • Prof. Dr. Ingo Liefner, Dr. Stefan Hennemann (Universität Gießen)
  • Prof. Dr. Frauke Kraas (Universität zu Köln)
  • Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Soltwedel (Institut für Weltwirtschaft Kiel)

Contact Person:

  • Marie Pahl (Universität zu Köln)
  • Pamela Hartmann (Universität zu Köln)

Project duration: 2009 - 2011


The social and human capital bases of upgrading will be analyzed by a survey among highly qualified workers. Technological and organizational upgrading relies on an educated workforce. Most of the workforce employed in large-scale manufacturing in the PRD, however, has a primary or secondary education only. This is especially true for the migrant workforce. Beijing and Shanghai are considered China´s human capital hotspots. Within the Greater Pearl River Delta, only Hong Kong is characterized by a relatively high share of high skilled workers. Thus, human capital may turn out to be a severe bottleneck for upgrading. The project will analyze what companies in which regions of the Delta are affected by this shortage. Moreover, highly skilled workers will be asked to assess education efforts, training activities, and prospects for in-migration of qualified workers. This has to be complemented by an assessment concerning the desirability of employment in different locations within the PRD with means of qualitative social research (structured and open interviews, biographic method and participant observation).

This graph shows the cooperation within the German research consortium (source: application document)


Xue, D.; Ting, L.; Kraas, F.; Kilian, P. (2010): Informal job-seeking agencies and their role in the 'World Factory' of the Pearl River Delta: A case study in Tangxia Township, Dongguan City, Guangdong Province. 地 理研究 (Geographical Research) 29(10), S. 1793–1801.

Kilian, P.; Beißwenger, S.; Xue D. (2010): Floating or settling down? Migrant workers and megaurban development in the Pearl River Delta, China. Geographische Rundschau International Edition 6(2), S. 50–56.

Bork, T.; Kilian, P.; Sterly, H. (2009): Informalität in Megastädten – das Beispiel der megaurbanen Region Perlflussdelta, China. Praxis Geographie 39 (7-8), S. 28-33

Meyer, S.; Schiller, D.; Revilla-Diez, J. (2009): The janus-faced economy: Hong Kong firms as intermediaries between global customers and local producers in the electronics industry. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (TESG) 100, No. 2, pp. 224-235.

Schiller, D.; Meyer, S. (2008): Agile Unternehmensorganisation und Wirtschaftsnetzwerke im Perlflussdelta. Geographische Rundschau 60(5). S. 36-43.