01 Dec 2002
Think Globally, Teach Locallyby Julia Hanna
When HBS professor F. Warren McFarlan moved to Vevey, Switzerland,
in 1973, it was his first experience living outside the United States.
I had three degrees from Harvard, and my major lifetime move had
been from the western suburbs of Boston to Cambridge, he recalls. That changed
when McFarlan was selected as one of the first faculty team members to teach in
the new International Senior Managers Program (ISMP), an eight-week Executive
Education course that was offered by the School in Vevey until 1983.
It was a remarkable success, says
McFarlan. We developed a wealth of new
material, all of which found its way back into
the HBS curriculum. Staffing the program,
however, was no easy task. People were
dragged kicking and screaming — I agreed to
go because I was coming up for tenure, he
says with a smile. Yet each of the faculty
members involved described the experience as
a turning point in terms of how they thought
about the world and their research.
Today, McFarlan is senior associate dean,
director of the School's Asia-Pacific Initiative,
and chair of an Executive Education program
at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
Nearly thirty years after that first foray abroad,
he now has plenty of company: More than half of the School's faculty
conducts research overseas each year. HBS professor Thomas R.
Piper, who also taught in the ISMP program, currently heads two
Senior Executive Programs in Africa and the Middle East. Professor
Debora L. Spar is working with faculty to develop an executive training
program in Africa that will use digital technology to reach students
in remote areas of the continent — and allow for customization
of course materials.
These and other programs continue a history of involvement that
began in the 1920s and has resulted in
the founding of schools around the globe,
including the Instituto Centroamericano de
Administración de Empresas (INCAE) in
Costa Rica; the Philippines' Asian Institute of
Management (AIM); the Indian Institute of
Management (IIM) at Ahmedabad; and the
International Institute for Management
Development (IMD) in Switzerland, among
According to HBS professor Tarun Khanna,
the support provided in establishing these
schools (most of which were founded in the
1960s) can be seen as just one stage in the
School's ongoing commitment to international
research and business education. Historically,
we've always encouraged others to consider using the case method,
and that has brought us into contact with constituencies overseas,
says Khanna, who is researching the influence of U.S. schools and
HBS in particular on international business education. Now we
are enhancing our effort to work collectively with businesses and
academics worldwide to generate globally relevant knowledge.
The formation of the HBS Global Initiative in 1996 and the opening
of research centers in Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, and Paris
is clearly part of that movement. It is important to our increasingly
international student body — 33 percent of the MBA Class of 2003
— that our course materials are drawn from diverse country environments
that illustrate cross-border and cross-cultural issues in
business management, notes HBS professor John A. Quelch, senior
associate dean for International Development. This material will
help develop a respect for cultural diversity and a sense that the
United States is not the only source of business best practices.
We live in a global world, where an understanding of and presence
in international issues has become a core competence, says
McFarlan. That's why it's of such vital importance for our faculty
to spend time outside the United States. You get out and see new
things, new parts of the puzzle — and in the process, your work
becomes more relevant.
In the stories that follow, the Bulletin checks in on some of the
School's most recent ventures in the international realm.
Teaching Teachers: CPCL Energizes the Classroom
Porter Course Goes Abroad
What You Know Depends on Where You Go: Developing An International Perspective on Research
Building a Network for Social Enterprise in Latin America