Interdisciplinary Knowledge is the Key – Professor Yuk-fai FONG

A Fortuitous Occurrence

Professor Fong starts off as a physics major. However, attending an economics elective course has enlightened him on what is his true interests. He found economics fascinating as the methodology is very systematic and formal, while studying human beings and firms is fun. Captured by the knowledge of economics, Professor Fong then changed his major from physics to economics, hopped onto the boat of MPhil, and eventually, embarked on his lifelong scholarly journey.


“You can say that I am an accidental Economist.”


Looking back to his academic path, Professor Fong enjoys every bit of his research journey. It requires great effort and patience. Also, some research projects can take many years to finish. However, once you have succeeded to break through all the hurdles, the sense of achievement is paramount. An advantage of being a scholar is that it is at your full discretion to decide what to research on, you will be always working on something you are truly interested in and enjoy the process. Therefore, Professor Fong strongly encourages students that are fond of knowledge creation and are being really passionate on their discipline to take the academic path.


Teaching as a Privileged Occupation

Professor Fong’s dedication in pedagogy is germinated during his teaching years in a renowned US business school. Nurtured in a culture that values teaching on par with research has deeply impacted Professor Fong’s academic life. Teaching to him has ever since become a noble and privileged profession. He hoped that, even in a minor way, he can produce positive influence on his students’ personal growth. Professor Fong’s passion for teaching was recognized with multiple awards.


Interdisciplinary Knowledge is the Key

Professor Fong’s thirst for knowledge has encouraged him to seek new frontiers to explore. During his early years, Professor Fong has already started to research on interdisciplinary knowledge. As the first local economists researching on how exogenous changes in extra household environmental factors affect independent and spousal leisure between couples, Professor Fong and his coauthor and MPhil thesis advisor found the topic is surprisingly common among psychologists and sociologists while it’s the opposite among economists and the concept of “spousal leisure” was unexplored by them.


He believes that interdisciplinary intellectual exchange and the opportunity to analyze cross-disciplinary knowledge with different methodologies is conducive to academic and research advancement. This experience is remarkable in the sense that significant strides are made in his crusade of knowledge exploration.


The same belief also applies to academic learning. Professor Fong encourages students to learn more about technology and analytics, while focusing on business-related applications. He believes that one should dive deeper in knowledge regarding to machine learning and AI. As the world is getting increasingly digitalized, being tech-savvy and numerical sensitive would greatly strengthen ones’ competitiveness.


Interestingly, Professor Fong also emphasized the importance of learning from the past while we eagerly seek for future opportunities. He highly recommends students to study history, be it Chinese or world history. Possessing rich cultural knowledge might be a helpful tool in networking with people from all walks of life, opening new doors to career, investment or even business opportunities.


Corporate Social Responsibilities as a Heat Topic for Thoughts

When sharing about his recent research, Professor Fong highlights his recent studies on whether engaging in Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) initiatives can enhance firms’ reputation in a dynamic setting. While firms need to build up a reputation for their product quality, some customers genuinely care whether the firm is being socially responsible. He is interested to find out whether these two actions are complementary to each other and whether the analysis will be different based on different kinds of CSR initiates adopted by firms. Interested students could pay attention to it.


Currently, Professor Fong is also conducting a research on fintech lending, with the aim of studying the impacts fintech lenders can bring to the existing competition among traditional financial institutions. We look forward to seeing his research results.


Way Forward

After joining HKU Business School, Professor Fong notices the Faculty is growing rapidly. New initiatives are setting in motion and new challenges awaits. HKU has always been the den of intellectuals and experts, with new scholars joining the faculty, Professor Fong looks forward to creating new knowledge in HKU. 


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