In January of this year two Fort Hays State University faculty, Justin Evans, college of business international coordinator, and Tony Gabel, associate professor of business law, and five students traveled to China in order to conduct first hand research on business practices.
The students and their leaders left the country with a main goal in mind.
“We wanted to collect viewpoints from managers and attorneys on the ground there who are actually involved in day to day business, to test whether our general ideas were valid in an environment like China, and to our gratification, we found that they do seem to be,” Evans said.
Evans and Gabel have already written articles about their journey and why they chose to carry out the research in China.
“We published our first article through the University of North Carolina. In this article, we’re asking the question, “What role should the law play in international business strategy?” We wrote an overview article on this topic because both of us have legal and business backgrounds, and then we decided to begin applying those general ideas to particular countries. We chose China, as an important, dynamic, changing environment that a lot of American companies are doing business in now, that was sort of the impetus for going to China,” Evans said.
Originally, the two were supposed to be in China in the summer of 2013, however, an injury Gabel sustained to his knee changed their plans. The trip was later allowed to include FHSU students.
In late 2013, Evans suggested that the research trip apply for the Undergraduate Research Experience grant. With the grant help, the two men were able to advertise for the position, originally for two spots. During the application process, around 40 students applied and participated in submitting a résumé and answering questions asking why they would a good match for the research journey, as well as an interview.
After realizing they had many more qualified students than the research trip had funds for, Evans and Gabel visited with Chris Crawford, interm provost, Tim Crowley, dean of the graduate school, Mark Bannister, dean of the college of business and entrepreneurship, and Greg Weisenborn, chair of management and marketing, about the situation, enough money was available to allow two more student positions and a graduate research assistant position. All of the travel and lodging expenses were paid for, as well as some meals.
While in China, both Gabel and Evans enjoyed meeting with the different business men and women, who were very busy but generous with their time when it came to speaking with the interviewers.
“My favorite part was the conducting of the interviews with the managers and attorneys and to see their perspective on a very complex topic and conducting business in the international arena, especially advising clients as they are entering into a jurisdiction that was unlike Western jurisdictions. To have the ability to have that conversation with them and for them to share that information with me, with us was edifying, it was wonderful,” Gabel said.
Gabel enjoyed visiting the different sites during the research adventure, like the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City in Beijing
“On a personal side, it was wonderful to experience something like China that I’ve never experienced before to be able to see several different sites. We went to several museums, we were able to go to the Great Wall, it wasn’t all work, we had some play. If you’re going to go to an entirely different continent, especially when that culture’s been around for well over six thousand years, you want to see something about that,” Gabel said.
Evans enjoyed being in China, again, and allowing the students to expand their horizons.
“I enjoyed watching the students, a great deal. I think they developed even during the short two weeks we were there. They seemed to very much enjoy the trip. The whole experience was fantastic,” Evans said.
Evans believes there are many advantages to traveling abroad.
“There are a lot of benefits in addition to having a fun time. In the type of trip that we took, the students gained exposure to potential companies to potential employers and expanded their professional networks. They gained the experience of collecting data. They’re now writing papers for undergraduate research journals. Both teams of undergraduates were accepted to present at the Undergraduate Research Day in Topeka last month, so they’ve had this exposure in professional settings with public speaking,” Evans said.
The research leaders and team are expected to have many articles published in hopes of creating useful information and perspectives on international business.