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PhD student international award

International recognition for Newcastle PhD student

Published on: 26 April 2024

A Newcastle University doctoral student has received international recognition for the quality and originality of her research.

Jaun Hwang, a PhD student in the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, has received the prestigious American Association of Geographers’ 2024 prize for Best Dissertation Proposal, in the Economic Geography Specialty Group. The highly competitive award recognises postgraduate researchers whose work promises to make a valuable contribution to economic geography and regional development studies.

Jaun, from South Korea, won the award for her research proposal ‘The dynamic relationship between entrepreneurship and institutions in regional path development: A comparative study of Korean industrial cities’. The research aims to investigate and explain how entrepreneurs build and transform local institutions such as regional industrial associations and other organisations involved in economic development at a regional level.   

Despite growing interest in the role of individuals’ motivations and behaviours in the development of new regional industrial pathways, there remains a strong belief that institutional structures are the main influence on regional entrepreneurship. However, in practice, entrepreneurs do not always conform to existing institutions but create significant change in structures to make their new businesses accepted and recognised within their region.

The novelty of Jaun’s research is its dynamic approach to the relationship between entrepreneurship and this type of infrastructure and system. Through investigating comparative case studies of deindustrializing cities in Korea, Jaun’s study will identify necessary conditions, key actors, and processes of local institutional transformation by entrepreneurs. The findings will shed light on the question of why some regions can change their institutions to adapt to a new economic environment while others are unable to do so. Jaun is co-supervised by Dr Kean Fan Lim and Professor Andy Pike.

Jaun said: “I am proud that my research potential has been recognised internationally in this way. This award significantly boosts my academic motivation and gives me the confidence to use this opportunity to realise the potential for my research to contribute to the literature in this field. My heartfelt gratitude goes to my supervisors Professor Andy Pike and Dr Kean Fan Lim, and academic colleagues in CURDS, for their invaluable support which has enabled me to have such a meaningful experience at this early stage of my career.”

Professor Andy Pike said: “Jaun’s international success in receiving this highly competitive award is a marker of her outstanding quality and the importance and timeliness of her research on the construction of ‘entrepreneurial ecosystems’ in old industrial cities in South Korea.”

Jaun Hwang

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