Professor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Discipline: Business Administration
Lecturing/Research: Globalization and the Performance of Caribbean Firms
Host: University of the West Indies--Cave Hill, Barbados
September – December 2006
Having conducted seminars and taught classes in several countries and at Marquette University in Wisconsin, Syed Akhter was looking forward to going to Barbados as a Fulbright Scholar for a lecturing/research grant in globalization and the performance of Caribbean firms. Akhter’s Fulbright Scholar experience has been enriching in many ways and turned out to be more rewarding than he anticipated.
“By living among the community, I had an opportunity to experience local hospitality. My Fulbright Scholar experience gave me the time, freedom and resources to study the effects of globalization on firms’ market positions, their strategic responses, and performance outcomes.
“The opportunity to meet with top executives in Barbadian firms and University of the West Indies (UWI) students was the highlight of my trip. It was a pleasure to see how receptive local business leaders were to receiving a Fulbright Scholar and sharing their valuable time to further our understanding of the impact of globalization on firms in a small economy,” Akhter said.
Akhter’s Fulbright project offered a method of opening the dialogue with Barbadian business executives, university professors and students to share our views on globalization and economy. By way of an interview process, Akhter and his colleagues were able to discuss the meaning, effects and implications of globalization.
In another forum, Akhter made a presentation at the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) on how firms in developing economies can improve their competitive position in a global economy. The presentation was followed by a case discussion on foreign market entry strategies. BIDC then donated BD$1200 to the Management Studies Program, University of the West Indies (UWI), to further the research that Akhter had begun. “To promote international collaboration in research activities, I have included a professor from UWI to work jointly on my project; by doing so, my plan is to extend the scope of the project beyond Barbados to other Caribbean countries,” said Akhter.
Akhter also made a presentation on global business developments in one of the classes at UWI. During the question and answer session, he was able to explore with the students the basis of their beliefs and probe the complex issues involved in globalization. It is through such dialogues with executives, students and faculty that he had been able to see and appreciate differences in views on global socioeconomic developments and business and economic performance.
Furthermore, Akhter attended several departmental meetings and realized the promising opportunities the UWI faculty is creating by sharing their research efforts in seminars. He enjoyed being a participant observer at these meetings and noted the similarities between the issues they face as a department and the ones we face in the Marketing Department at Marquette University.
“I left Barbados with a warm feeling for the people and the culture they represent. While participating in many Barbadian venues, I shared the American point of view; however, for mutual understanding to result, the lessons I learned must be carried back to my classes at Marquette University and to the broader academic community of the United States.
“In my classes at Marquette, I look forward to narrating my experiences and reporting what it means to be a small firm in a small developing economy that must compete against large firms in a large economy. Additionally, I plan to share my experiences with a broader audience, by consolidating my findings and sending the report to the Barbadian executives who participated in the study. I will also present the findings at academic conferences, and publish proceedings and articles for business scholars. Through these efforts, I hope to enhance our understanding of the effects of increasing trade and investment and cultural exchanges. It is my goal to expand this research to include other countries such as Brazil, India and China,” said Akhter.