• T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies; Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration; Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor; Director of the Harvard China Fund; former Director of the Fairbank Center
  • https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=409749
  • Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies | CGIS South Building | 1730 Cambridge Street | Cambridge MA 02138

Research Interests: Doing business in China in the early 21st century; Chinese companies and consumer markets; Chinese Universities: Leaders of the 21st Century?; The enduring role of State-Owned Enterprises in China; Business, political, and cultural relations across the Taiwan Strait

William C. Kirby is Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies at Harvard University. He is a University Distinguished Service Professor. Professor Kirby 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 by training, Professor Kirby 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 forty 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 book is Can China Lead? (Harvard Business Review 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, Professor Kirby has served as Chair of the History Department, Director of the Harvard University Asia Center, Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

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. He initiated major reforms in undergraduate education in Harvard College; enhanced Harvard's international studies at home and abroad; increased substantially financial aid in the College and in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; supported the growth of the Division (now School) of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and oversaw the construction of major new buildings in the Life Sciences, Engineering, and the Arts. During his tenure, the Faculty expanded at its most rapid rate since the 1960s.

Professor Kirby's research and consulting have focused on strategies for business and education in China. He serves on the Board of Directors of Cabot Corporation; The China Fund, Inc.; The Taiwan Fund, Inc.; the American Council of Learned Societies; and Harvard University Press. He chairs the Academic Advisory Council for Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University and serves as Senior Advisor on China to Duke University.

Professor Kirby holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and (Dr. Phil. Honoris Causa) from the Freie Universität Berlin and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He has been named Honorary Professor at Tsinghua University, 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 held appointments also as Visiting Professor at University of Heidelberg and the Freie Universität Berlin. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

From the Fairbank Blog:

The Real Reason Uber Is Giving Up in China, August 2016

From the Fairbank Podcast:

柯伟林教授是哈佛大学T. M. Chang 中国研究讲席教授,哈佛商学院斯潘格勒家族(Spangler Family) 讲席教授。柯伟林教授曾获哈佛大学杰出贡献教授称号,目前担任哈佛中国基金主席







Kirby, William C. and Marijk C. van der Wende, eds. Experiences in Liberal Arts and Science Education from America, Europe, and Asia: A Dialogue Across Continents. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan. Can China Lead? Reaching the Limits of Power and Growth. Harvard Business Review Press, 2014.

Kirby, William C., ed. The People's Republic of China at 60--An International Assessment. Cambridge: Harvard University, Asia Center, 2011.

Alford, William P., William Kirby and Kenneth Winston, eds. Prospects for the Professions in China. Routledge Studies on Civil Society in Asia. London: Routledge, 2010.

Kirby, William C. and Dayong Niu, eds. China and the World: Internationalization, Internalization, Externalization (Zhongguo yu shijie: guojihua, neihua yu waihua). Beijing: Hebei People's Press, 2007.

Kirby, William C., Gong Li and Robert Ross, eds. The Normalization of U.S.-China Relations: An International History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. (Also published as Cong jiedong zou xiang jianjiao [From Rapprochement to the Establishment of Sino-American Relations, 1969-1979.] (Beijing: Zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 2004.)

Kirby, William C., Mechthild Leutner and Klaus Mühlhahn, eds. Global Conjectures: China in Transnational Perspective. Vol. 30, Berliner China-Hefte. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2006.

Kirby, William C., ed. Realms of Freedom in Modern China. Vol. 15, Making of Modern Freedom. Stanford University Press, 2004.

Kirby, William C., James Chin Shih, Man-houng Lin and David A. Pietz, eds. State and Economy in Republican China: A Handbook for Scholars. 2 vols. Cambridge: Harvard University, Asia Center, 2001.

Kirby, William C. Germany and Republican China. Stanford University Press, 1984. (With new Chinese introduction and translation, published as Deguo yu Zhonghua minguo [Germany and the Republic of China], Chen Qianping, Chen Hongmin, et al., trans. (Nanjing: Jiangsu renmin chubanshe, 2006). First translated with new Chinese foreword as Jiang Jieshi yu Nacui Deguo [Chiang Kai-shek and Nazi Germany], Chen Jianping, et al., trans., (Beijing: Zhongguo qingnian chubanshe, 1994).)

Hillgruber, Andreas, and William C. Kirby. Germany and the Two World Wars. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981 (William C. Kirby, translator.)

Journal Articles

Kirby, William C. "The Real Reason Uber Is Giving Up in China." Harvard Business Review (website) (August 2, 2017).

Kirby, William C., and Marijk C. van der Wende. "Editors' Note." Special Issue on New Directions in Liberal Arts and Science Education in Asia. International Journal of Chinese Education 5, no. 1 (2016): 1–4.

Kirby, William C., and F. Warren McFarlan. "China Still Isn't Ready to Be a True Global Leader." Harvard Business Review (website) (January 5, 2015).

Kirby, William C. "Zhongguo shiji? Gaodeng jiaoyu de tiaozhan [The Chinese Century? The Challenges of Higher Education]." Qinghua daxue jiaoyu yanjiu [Tsinghua Journal of Education] 35, no. 3 (June 2014): 1–8.

Kirby, William C. "The Chinese Century? The Challenges of Higher Education." Daedalus 143, no. 2 (Spring 2014): 145–156.

Kirby, William C., F. Warren McFarlan, and Regina M. Abrami. "Five Challenges China Must Meet by 2034." Harvard Business Review Blogs (November 27, 2013). https://blogs.hbr.org/2013/11/five-challenges-china-must-meet-by-2034/.

Kirby, William C. "The Ex-CEO Contemplates a Coup." Harvard Business Review 91, no. 6 (June 2013): 129–133.

Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan. "Why China Can't Innovate." Harvard Business Review 92, no. 3 (March 2014): 107–111.

Kirby, William C. "Youxian de huobanguanxi: 1928 nian zhi 1944 nian Zhongguo yu Deguo, Sulian he Meiguo de guanxi [Limited Partners: China's Relations with Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States, 1928-1944]." Shehui kexue yanjiu [Social Science Research], no. 3 (2010): 138–152.

Kirby, William C. "Guanyu Zhongguo, Ouzhou, yu Meiguo de daxue [On the State of Chinese, European, and American Universities]." Zhongguo xue shu [China Scholarship] 7, no. 1 (2009): 186–195. (ISBN: 978-7-100-05382-2.)

Kirby, William C. "On Chinese, European and American Universities." Daedalus 137, no. 3 (summer 2008).

Kirby, William C. "China's Internationalization in the Early People's Republic: Dreams of a Socialist World." China Quarterly, no. 188 (December 2006): 870–890.

Kirby, William C. "The People's Republic of China as History." Sino-American Relations 25, no. 4 (winter 1999): 12–21. (also published in Harvard Asia Quarterly (June 1999))

Kirby, William C. "The Internationalization of China." China Quarterly, no. 150 (June 1997): 443–458. (Translated as "Zhongguo de Guojihua: minguo shidai de duiwai guanxi," Ershiyi shiji [Twenty-first Century] (Hong Kong), no. 44 (Dec. 1997), 33-47.)

Kirby, William C. "China, Unincorporated: Company Law and Business Enterprise in Twentieth Century China." Journal of Asian Studies 54, no. 1 (February 1995): 43–63. (Reprinted in Capitalism in Asia: Sixty Years of the Journal of Asian Studies, edited by David Ludden, 29-50. Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, 2004.)

Kirby, William C. "Continuity and Change in Modern China: Chinese Economic Planning on the Mainland and on Taiwan, 1943-1958." Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 24 (July 1990): 121–141.

Kirby, William C., and Stephen C. Averill. "Recent American Scholarship on Republican China." Chitake ni arite 16 (November 1989). (corrected version 17 in (May 1990) 43-64. Published also in Zhongguo jindaishi yanjiu tongxun [Research in Modern Chinese History (Taipei)] 9 (1990))

Kirby, William C. "Zhonghua minguo shiqide hezi he jishu zhuanrang [Joint ventures and technological development under the Republic of China]." Zhongwai shehui kexue [Sino-Foreign Social Science] (December 1987).

Kirby, William C. "Joint Ventures, Technology Transfer and Technocratic Organization in Nationalist China." Republican China 12, no. 2 (April 1987).

Book Chapters

Kirby, William C. "Why Do So Many Chinese Students Come to the United States?" Chap. 27 in The China Questions: Critical Insights into a Rising Power, edited by Jennifer Rudolph and Michael Szonyi, 219–230. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018.

Kirby, William C., and Marijk C. van der Wende. "A Global Dialogue on Liberal Arts and Sciences: Re-engagement, Re-imagination, and Experimentation." Chap. 1 in Experiences in Liberal Arts and Science Education from America, Europe, and Asia: A Dialogue Across Continents, edited by William C. Kirby and Marijk C. van der Wende, 1–16. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Kirby, William C. "China Stands Up: The Wartime Foundations of China's Emergence as a Great Power." In Zhan zheng de li shi yu ji yi [War in History and Memory], edited by Fangshang Lü, 202–221. Taipei, Taiwan: Guo shi guan [Academia Historica], 2015.

Kirby, William C. "Global Business Across the Taiwan Strait: The Case of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited." In Mobile Horizons: Dynamics Across the Taiwan Strait, edited by Wen-hsin Yeh, 178–208. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2013.

Kirby, William C. "Engineers and the State in Modern China." In Prospects for the Professions in China, edited by William P. Alford, William Kirby, and Kenneth Winston, 283–314. Routledge Studies on Civil Society in Asia. London: Routledge, 2010.

Kirby, William C. "China's Republican Century: Leaders and Followers on the Mainland and on Taiwan, 1911-2007." In Lun Minguo shiqi lingdao qingying [Leadership Elites in Republican China], edited by Lu Fang-shang, 22–32. Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 2009. (ISBN: 978-962-07-6426-4.)

Kirby, William C. "Archives and Histories in Twentieth-Century China." In Archives, Documentation and Institutions of Socal Memory, edited by Francis X. Blouin Jr. and William G. Rosenberg. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.

Kirby, William C. "When Did China Become China? Thoughts on the Twentieth Century." In The Teleology of the Modern Nation-State, edited by Joshua A. Fogel, 105–114. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

Kirby, William C. "Introduction." Introduction to Realms of Freedom in Modern China. Vol. 15, edited by William C. Kirby, 1–17. Making of Modern Freedom. Stanford University Press, 2004.

Kirby, William C. "The Chinese Party-State under Democracy and Dictatorship on the Mainland and Taiwan." In Realms of Freedom in Modern China. Vol. 15, edited by William C. Kirby, 113–138. Making of Modern Freedom. Stanford University Press, 2004.

Kirby, William C. "Images and Realities of Chinese Fascism." In Fascism Outside Europe: The European Impulse Against Domestic Conditions In The Diffusion Of Global Fascism, edited by Stein Ugelvik Larsen, 233–268. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

Kirby, William C. "The Two Chinas in the Global Setting: Sino-Soviet and Sino-American Cooperation in the 1950s." In Re-examining the Cold War: U.S. China Diplomacy, 1954-1973, edited by Robert Ross, 25–46. Cambridge: Harvard University, Asia Center, 2001.

Kirby, William C. "The Nationalist Regime and the Chinese Party-State." In Historical Perspectives on Contemporary East Asia, edited by Merle Goldman and Andrew Gordon, 211–237. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Kirby, William C. "Engineering China: The Origins of the Chinese Developmental State." In Becoming Chinese, edited by Wen-hsin Yeh, 137–160. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Kirby, William C. "Intercultural Connections and Chinese Development: External and Internal Spheres of Modern China's Foreign Relations." In China's Quest for Modernization: A Historical Perspective, edited by Frederic Wakeman and Wang Xi, 219–248. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies, 1997. (published first in Zhongguo xiandaihua wenti [Issues of Chinese modernization] (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe, 1994))

Kirby, William C. "The Study of Modern China's Foreign Relations: Trends and Research Agendas." In Politik, Wirtschaft, Kulter: Studien zu den Deutsch-Chinesischen Beziehungen, edited by Mechthild Leutner, 385–406. Munster: Lit Verlag, 1996.

Kirby, William C. "Chinese-American Relations in Comparative Perspective, 1900-1949." In Pacific Passage: The Study of American East-Asian Relations on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century, edited by Warren Cohen and Akira Iriye, 163–190. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Kirby, William C. "Traditions of Centrality, Authority and Management in Modern China's Foreign Relations." In Ideas and Interpretations in Chinese Foreign Policy, edited by David Shambaugh and Thomas Robinson, 13–30. New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Kirby, William C. "Intercultural Contacts and International Relations: China's Relations with Germany, the Soviet Union and the United States, 1927-1944." In Deutschland und China, edited by Kuo Heng-yü and Mechthild Leutner, 225–252. Munich: Minerva Publikation, 1994.

Kirby, William C. "The Chinese War Economy: Mobilization, Control, and Planning in Nationalist China." In China's Bitter Victory: The War With Japan, 1937-1945, edited by Steven I. Levine and James C. Hsiung, 185–213. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1992.

Kirby, William C. "Minguo shiqi Zhongwai jingji jishu hezuo: Meigo zhanshi shengchan quwentuan huan Hua, 1944-1946 [Sino-foreign Economic and Technical Cooporation in Republican China: The U.S. War Production Mission to China, 1944-46]." In Minguo dang'an yu minguo shi xueshu taolunhui lunwenji [Proceedings of the Conference on the Archives and History of Republican China], edited by Zhang Xianwen, et al.. Beijing: Dang'an chubanshe [Archives Press], 1989.

Kirby, William C. "Technocratic Organization and Technological Development in China, 1928-1953." In Science and Technology in Post-Mao China, edited by Denis Fred Simon and Merle Goldman, 23–44. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989.

Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies