Understanding the Shenzhen “Miracle”:
A Field Study of Urban and Economic Development in the Shenzhen SEZ
This paper explores why and how Shenzhen has become, by far, China’s most successful Special Economic Zone. By conducting thorough background research and employing qualitative research methods during a six-day trip to Shenzhen in 2018, we identified underlying drivers of the SEZ’s rapid economic growth and urban agglomeration by testing three different hypotheses for Shenzhen’s success vis-à-vis China’s other early SEZs. Our research confirmed the importance of Shenzhen’s geographical proximity to Hong Kong and superior institutional environment as key factors for the relative success of its SEZ.
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