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William C. Kirby

Distinguished Fellow


T. M. CHANG PROFESSOR OF CHINA STUDIES AND SPANGLER FAMILY PROFESSOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | HARVARD UNIVERSITY

William C. Kirby is T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies at Harvard University and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School (HBS). He is a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor. He serves as chairman of the Harvard China Fund, the University’s academic venture fund for China, and faculty chair of the Harvard Center Shanghai, Harvard’s first University-wide center located outside the United States. 

A historian of modern China, Professor Kirby’s work examines contemporary China’s business, economic and political development in an international context. He writes and teaches on the growth of modern companies in China (Chinese and foreign; state-owned and private); Chinese corporate law and company structure; business relations across Greater China (PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong); and China’s relations with the United States and Europe. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 HBS cases on business in China, ranging from start-ups to SOEs; agribusiness and middle-class consumption; banking and microfinance; healthcare and education; corporate governance and corporate social responsibility; and the global strategies of Chinese firms. His current projects include case studies of trend-setting Chinese businesses and a comparative study of higher education in China, Europe and the United States. His most recent books include Can China Lead? (Harvard Business Review Press) and China and Europe on the New Silk Road (Oxford University Press). 

Before coming to Harvard in 1992, he was professor of history, director of Asian studies, and dean of University College at Washington University in St. Louis. At Harvard, he has served as chair of the history department, director of the Harvard University Asia Center, and director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. As dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, he led Harvard’s largest school, with 10,000 students, 1,000 faculty members, 2,500 staff and an annual budget of $1 billion. 

Professor Kirby’s research and consulting have focused on strategies for business and education in China. In addition to the American Council of Learned Societies, he serves on the Board of Directors of Cabot Corporation; The China Fund, Inc.; The Taiwan Fund, Inc.; Harvard University Press; and Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University. He served as senior advisor on China to Duke University in the founding of Duke Kunshan University. 

Professor Kirby holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the Freie Universit√§t Berlin (Dr. Phil. honoris causa), the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Dr. Phil. honoris causa) and Hong Kong Baptist University (Dr. Humanities honoris causa). He has been named Honorary Professor at Peking University, Nanjing University, Fudan University, Zhejiang University, Chongqing University, East China Normal University, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and National Chengchi University. He has also held appointments as visiting professor at University of Heidelberg and the Free University of Berlin. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.