Asia School of Business

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The ASEAN Research Center

Endowed by Maybank, the ASEAN Research Center (ARC) positions itself as the intellectual hub in Southeast Asia, focusing on impactful research about emerging markets in the ASEAN region.

Our Mission


Conduct rigorous and impactful research to inform policy-making and improve lives of ASEAN citizens, especially in emerging markets.


Research and publish publicly-available reports on topics related to ASEAN, including long-term “flagship” research programs developed in-house.


Host public events for ASEAN-based research programs to foster intellectual dialogue and public interest, advancing knowledge generation.


Host visiting scholars and students to lecture and conduct research in the region, enhancing academic exchange and collaboration.

Research Pillars

Economic Resilience

ARC’s economic resilience research explores strategies to withstand shocks, adapt, and thrive in the ASEAN region’s dynamic market conditions and policies that foster stability and growth.
  • RYSE
    • A program designed to empower Malaysian youths through entrepreneurship and employability initiatives. Learn more
  • Roadside Economy Research Project
    • An extensive study on Malaysia’s hawker economy and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their operations and their livelihoods.

Sustainability and Society

ARC’s Sustainability and Society research pillar works with various public and private organizations to analyze ways to balance economic growth with environmental stewardship and social equity for a thriving future in the ASEAN region and beyond.
  • ESG Policies in ASEAN
    • In 2023, ARC was commissioned by the AKC to publish the “ESG Practices in ASEAN & Korea: Pathways Towards Sustainability” guidebook which highlights green and responsible business practices in ASEAN & Korea.
  • Palm Oil
  • MOF Case Study


The Inclusivity pillar promotes equity, ensuring that diverse voices are heard, valued, and protected. ARC partners with organizations such as UNHCR and SUHAKAM on research concerning statelessness, forced migration, and beyond.
  • Covid-19 Mortality
  • Public Perception on Refugees

Our Research Projects

Building a Malay Language Curriculum for Adult Refugees in Malaysia: Preliminary Findings

This ongoing project, a collaboration between ARC and UPM, along with funding partners UNHCR and Uniqlo Malaysia, aims to close the language gap between refugees and their hosts through an immersion-based Bahasa Malaysia curriculum.


Learn more here

Our Research Projects

Understanding Youth Entrepreneurship and Employability

Using RYSE as a platform for research, the methodology employed is based on two principles: (1) The integration of research and programs, leading to a two-way feedback system, and (2) Holistic Understanding towards Youth Entrepreneurship.

Our Research Projects

Ethnography on Palm Oil Labour

We conducted a labor ethnography study through semi-structured interviews with palm oil workers and smallholders in Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, and Selangor. The research explores and compares labor conditions between unionized estate workers and independent smallholders.

Our Research Projects

Focus Group Discussions conducted for Public Perception on Refugees in Malaysia Study

The research aims to understand public perception of refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, as well as the factors that influence such perceptions.

Our Research Projects

Understanding the Role of AI in Enhancing Research

With the ongoing evolution of artificial intelligence (AI), particularly Large Language Models (LLMs) like those employed in ChatGPT, what impact will it have on the future of research? This is the question ARC aims to address through our AI projects.

ARC Updates

News and Events

ARC Updates

Research Publication

1Trust, Norms, and Increasing COVID-19 Vaccination Registration in Malaysia – Preliminary Results 2021Report
2Social expectations and government incentives in Malaysia’s COVID-19 vaccine uptake2022Research Paper
3A voice for the silent: uncovering service exclusion practices2022Research Paper
4Identity, trust, and the experiences of refugees during a COVID-19 lockdown2022Research Paper
5Refugee community-based organizations: Resources, power, and dependency2022Research Paper
6A textual analysis of the effect of short-term volunteering on attitudes toward refugees in Malaysia2022Research Paper
7Reclaiming agency: A case study on refugee community organisations in Malaysia2022Book Chapter
8Translating entrepreneurial intention to behaviour amongst micro and small entrepreneurs 2022Research Paper
9An agency mapping of marginalized communities and aid providers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia 2022Research Paper
10Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on vulnerable populations in Malaysia through an ethical lens: A study of non-state actors involved in aid distribution 2022Research Paper
11The formation of youth entrepreneurial intention in an emerging economy: the interaction between psychological traits and socioeconomic factors 2023Research Paper
12Do proactive students benefit more from university support for entrepreneurship when it comes to choosing entrepreneurship as a career choice? An examination of Ghanian and Malaysian students 2023Research Paper
13Perceptions of Entrepreneurship and Online Learning During the Coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic 2023Research Paper
14Dreams vs Reality: Urban and Rural Female Youth Aspirations 2023Research Paper
15Conditions of Precarity and Strategies of Resilience: The Malaysian Hawker Community and COVID-19 Pandemic 2023Book Chapter
16Recruitment of Participants from Vulnerable Groups for Social Research: Challenges and Solutions 2023Book Chapter
17Human Rights and Statelessness in Peninsular Malaysia 2023Report
18Modul Bertutur Bahasa Melayu: Aras Permulaan (A Basic Conversational Malay Language Curriculum for Non-Native Adult Speakers)2023Book
ASEAN Research Center (ARC) Faculty Director

Dr. Melati Nungsari is an Associate Professor II of Economics and the Deputy Dean of Research, Asia School of Business & Research Affiliate at MIT Sloan School of Management. She is an applied microeconomist specializing in industrial organization, public economics, market design, and economic education. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Mathematics and Economics (Magna Cum Laude) with Honors in Mathematics from Knox College, and her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Her research focuses on two-sided matching platforms with search, and how firms use pricing to correct for negative externalities on the platform. She also studies public policy issues such as the labor market integration of refugees, policy design for retirement markets in Chile and Malaysia, and labor market discrimination. Additionally, she has published research on pedagogy in economic education, services marketing, and refugee studies. While at UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Melati was a Chancellor’s Fellow with the Royster Society.

She has won multiple teaching awards throughout her career, and is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the most prestigious academic honor society in the United States. She is an active Op-Ed writer, public scholar, and public speaker. Prior to joining ASB, Dr. Melati was a professor of economics at Davidson College and Butler University. She has given research and classes all over the world, and is originally from Penang, Malaysia.

For a full list of her research publications, presentations, and most up-to-date CV, please visit her website at

Dr. Melati Nungsari

Associate Professor II Economics and Deputy Dean of Research & Research Affiliate at MIT Sloan School of Management

Nuruzzahraa Mohd Raznan

Marketing and Program Senior Associate, ASB

Program Manager, ASB

Shre Maha Manohar

Research and Communications Executive, ASB

Milaine Thia

Manager, Research & Communications, ASB

Chin Jia Wei

Principal Research Associate, ASB

Kar Yern Chin

Senior Research Associate, ASB

Senior Research Associate, ASB​

Fatimah Zahra Ros’azam

Research Associate, ASB​

Sharon Wah Yue Qing

Research Associate, ASB​

Sharon Wah Yue Qing

Research Associate, ASB​

Dr. Michael Mustafa

Ph.D. in Applied Psychology, University of Nottingham Head of Division for Organisational & Applied Psychology, University of Nottingham

Dr. Pieter E. Stek

PhD in Technology, Policy & Management from Delft University

Dr. Mark Cheong Wing Loong

Ph.D. in Public Health from Monash University Senior Lecturer School of Pharmacy Monash University Malaysia

ARC at the ASB Signs MoU with Sogang University of South Korea to Promote Asean Research

[Kuala Lumpur, 3 April 2024] – The ASEAN Research Center (ARC) at the Asia School of Business (ASB) announces the successful signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sogang Institute for East Asian Studies (SIEAS) from Sogang University, South Korea. The agreement aims to foster the mutual sharing of resources on academic research between the two universities, reaffirming ASB’s global reach and impact as a knowledge and learning institution. 

In line with the ARC’s goal to serve as the foremost intellectual hub about emerging markets in the ASEAN region, the MoU serves to solidify the center’s commitment to fostering cross-discipline intellectual endeavours within and about Southeast Asia on an international scale. SIEAS’s collaboration with the ARC represents great potential for the development and dissemination of research about Southeast Asia beyond ASEAN countries as Sogang University continues developing its graduate programme for Southeast Asian studies in South Korea. 

The signing commenced at the ASB campus in Kuala Lumpur. Chief Executive Officer, President and Dean of ASB, Dr. Sanjay Sarma and Jeon Kyung Jin represented their respective institutions as signatories of the MoU. The event was also attended by Dr. Melati Nungsari, Deputy Dean of Research at ASB and ARC Faculty Director. 

Per the terms of partnership, ARC and Sogang University will collaborate to: 

  • Conduct joint research and publications; 
  • Host conferences, events, workshops, and speakers; 
  • Facilitate faculty and staff exchange for participation in knowledge production events; 
  • Mutual sharing of academic and research materials; and 
  • Develop additional educational activities and programmes of mutual interest. 

“We’re extremely excited about the new opportunities that this MoU will bring,” shared Dr. Melati Nungsari. “From research methodologies to international perspectives, we have much to learn from Sogang University. Likewise, we are excited to share our own expertise about the ASEAN region to contribute to more fruitful cross-cultural intellectual exchange.” 

About the ASEAN Research Center (ARC) at the Asia School of Business: 

Housed within the Asia School of Business (ASB), the ASEAN Research Center (ARC) is aims to be the center of intellectual activity in Southeast Asia by conducting impactful research on the economic and social contexts surrounding emerging markets in the ASEAN region. 

The Asia School of Business (ASB) was established in 2015 by Bank Negara Malaysia in collaboration with MIT Sloan Management to be a premier global business school, a knowledge and learning hub infused with regional expertise, insights and perspectives of Asia and the emerging economies. ASB is committed to develop transformative and principled leaders who will contribute towards advancing the emerging world. 

About Sogang University 

The Institute for East Asian Studies at Sogang University (SIEAS) was established in November 1981 with the aim of promoting and facilitating pure and applied academic research on the politics, economies, societies, and cultures of East and Southeast Asian countries and regions, as well as to enhance public understanding. Since its establishment, the Institute has led East Asian and Southeast Asian studies in Korea, and it has played the role of a research hub, closely working with scholars, area specialists, research centers and public organizations in Korea and abroad. 

ARC x SUHAKAM Lecture 2024

On January 23, 2024, the ARC x SUHAKAM Lecture in Kuala Lumpur delved into the pressing concern of statelessness in Malaysia. Dr. Melati Nungsari, Deputy Dean of Research at ASB and Faculty Director of ARC, presented a SUHAKAM-commissioned report, followed by an impactful keynote from Bukit Gelugor MP YB. Tuan Ramkarpal Singh, illuminating the struggles faced by stateless individuals. The event also marked a milestone with the signing of a five-year memorandum of understanding on statelessness in Sabah, uniting SUHAKAM, Indonesia’s Komnas HAM, and The CHR Philippines in collaborative efforts.

ARC in the News

Explore a collection of media articles that provide insightful perspectives on the work and research themes of the ARC. These features delve into a broad overview of our commitment to addressing statelessness issues and showcase the diverse facets of our research initiatives.

ASEAN - Korea ESG Forum 2023

The ASEAN-Korea Centre orchestrated the ‘ASEAN-Korea ESG Forum’, marking the debut of the ‘ESG Practices in ASEAN and Korea: Pathways Towards Sustainability’ Guidebook, authored by the ASEAN Research Center and the Korea University ASEAN Center. Esteemed experts from both regions convened to explore the intersection of environmental, social, and governance issues in international trade. Through insightful sessions and expert dialogues, the forum underscored the pivotal role of ESG cooperation in bolstering sustainable partnerships between ASEAN and Korea, setting the stage for ongoing collaboration and mutual advancement.

The ASB-UNHCR Research Workshop on Refugee Studies and Forced Displacement 2023

The two-day workshop on refugee studies and forced displacement is being held for the third time in Malaysia by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR, in collaboration with the Asia School of Business ahead of World Refugee Day (20th of June), to highlight the importance of those who fled their war-torn country receiving basic human needs such as healthcare and education when seeking asylum. About 200 participants from all over the world attended the workshop and gathered to exchange and discuss ideas to understand deeper on refugees issues.

Feeding The Nation: Hawkers Are Navigating The Storm 2022

On 19th October 2022, the Maybank ASEAN Research Center at Asia School of Business officially launched its first public research dissemination event based on their in-house flagship study on Malaysia’s hawker and roadside economy. The research launch event closed with a panel discussion exploring how the Malaysian hawker community can be supported and noting the value of nostalgia in regard to street culture.

Launching of ASEAN Research Center 2022

On the 29th March 2022, the ASEAN Research Center has officially been launched! We were honoured to have Datuk Nora Manaf, co-chair of the Maybank ASEAN Research Center and Group Chief Human Capital Officer of Maybank and Professor Charles Fine, President and Dean at Asia School of Business and Professor at MIT Sloan to officiate the ceremony.

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