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Fisher Spotlight
--1999 Annual Report--
-Fisher College of Business-
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Image-"Knowledge is Power"Image-"Knowledge is Power"
Image-"Knowledge is Power"Image-"Knowledge is Power"
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Keong and Oded at the Columbus International Airport.
 
Keong and Oded
 

 

 

 

 

 

First Hand Knowledge
Keong and Oded

Keong Leong

Associate Professor of Operations Management

Oded Shenkar

Ford Motor Company designated Chair in Global Business Management,; Professor of Management and Human Resources


It really is a small world, after all.

Instantaneous global communications, international technology-sharing alliances, open borders and mass privatization have created an "open door" business climate around the world, more accessible than at any time in history. Such opportunities require managers to know more than ever about other cultures and global best practices.

It’s a fact with which Professors G. Keong Leong and Oded Shenkar are intimately acquainted.

"It’s one thing to talk in the classroom about emerging markets," says Leong, an associate professor of operations management. "But to actually go to these countries, absorb the culture and its differences, talk to the executives and walk with the plant managers, that’s the kind of education that no book, research paper or Web site can give you."

To put that theory into practice, Leong, along with other Fisher College faculty, originated the Emerging Markets Field Study Program five years ago, escorting groups of Fisher MBA students to such markets as Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. This past year, one group led by Professor Steve Hills went to Chile and Argentina, while the second group led by Leong traveled to Poland and Hungary.

"Before we went," says Leong, "Students tended to think of Eastern Europe as one fairly similar market. Our trip to Poland and Hungary clearly demonstrated, however, the extreme differences that exist there for privatization of state-owned companies. There were completely different operating systems between the two nations. You can get some of that information in a classroom, but certainly not as vividly."

The Fisher groups tour factories, interview executives and return to write case studies based on their findings which can then be directly incorporated into classroom material. It’s that kind of direct integration of research findings which is the strength—and ongoing challenge—for the Fisher College, says Ford Motor Company Designated Chair in Global Business Management, Oded Shenkar.

Shenkar, whose research has focused on such issues as Chinese privatization and reform and global human resource management, said the final link in the chain—the integration of research findings and field observations—can surprisingly be the factor overlooked by universities and businesses alike.

"Any school can send students on a trip to a foreign company or factory, and any faculty member can conduct international research and write a paper and then let it collect dust," says Shenkar. "It’s the integration of those findings with broader theoretical insights and their application in the academic and corporate world which is the key. I think we’re very fortunate here at the Fisher College to have recognized that concept as being so important, especially given the shifting nature of international business."

Interestingly, Shenkar credits Fisher College students for initiating some of the interest in international business preparation. "Students aren’t as resistant to change and realize that having international experience—through their classwork here at the Fisher College, internships or the Emerging Markets Program—makes them that much more attractive to potential employers."

"It’s always a major talking point for our students upon their return from the field trip, once they begin interviewing," says Leong.

"Students and businesses alike are seeing the direct and indirect benefits of having a more global perspective. The world is shrinking, after all."

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