University in Turmoil (ISBN 962 86141 1 8) is the most comprehensive study written to date about a Chinese work- unit. Through considerably rich detail, it portrays the life and times of Shenzhen University, an institution built in the first years of China's economic reforms under Deng Xiaoping. Focusing on administration and finances at the university, it peeks into a world that has been left largely unexplored. Along with the author's companion study, Educational Disengagement: Undermining Academic Quality at a Chinese University, this volume provides a look into the day-to-day operation of a work-unit with such attention to detail that it is unique among scholarship in China studies.
Many sources were used in the writing of this book. The author's six-year employment at Shenzhen University allowed for extensive ethnographic field research and the collecting of survey data. Conversations were held with hundreds of informants. The study, thus, uses both quantitative and qualitative data, employing an inductive approach.
Michael Agelasto, until his retirement, was an independent scholar specializing in Chinese education and culture. His dissertation explored the use of social relationships (guanxi) in job procurement by Shenzhen University graduates. He was co-editor of the 1998 compilation Higher Education in Post-Mao China and the author of Educational Disengagement: Undermining Academic Quality at a Chinese University