A map of global trade routes. (Credit: Jeff Warren/Flickr)

Is working remotely in your future?

For many, it already is. A 2016 poll from Gallup found that 43 percent of Americans are working remotely at least part of the time, up from 39 percent in 2012. According to a survey at the London Global Leadership Summit, executives anticipate more than half of their employees will be remote by 2020. With a workforce less attached to a physical office, how does this affect businesses?

Dr. Ram Mudambi, professor in the Fox School, seeks to understand this question and others like it, which play at the intersection of business, geography, and technology.

To do that, he launched International Business, Economic Geography, and Innovation (iBEGIN), a now-annual conference that aims to enhance research around the knowledge economy—based on intellectual capital and human talent—that sustains international business today.

“iBEGIN is based on the idea that connectivity across space is the ‘invisible web’ that underlies all human civilization,” Mudambi explains.

This past December, Mudambi and several of his fellow Fox School faculty and doctoral students attended iBEGIN at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. The conference—sponsored by the Fox School’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) and the Office of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives, as well as Ca’ Foscari University—brings together experts from the fields of business, geography, and technological innovation to explore international connectedness in time, space, and economy.

“Innovation is the outcome of social interactions among people, through either organizations or personal relationships,” says Mudambi, “Studying such complex phenomena requires a holistic approach.”

This year, attendees sought to learn more about how employees who work remotely, away from their companies’ main offices or headquarters, impact how international businesses function and grow.

When remote employees spend time with their colleagues face-to-face, the parties are more likely to value their time together, increase their level of attention, and emphasize knowledge and information exchange. The conference attendees discussed how international businesses were using remote work, what forms of temporary co-location increased creative interaction and long-term relationships, and which mechanisms improved knowledge exchange.

iBEGIN expands upon the work of the CIBER, Temple University’s premiere program to promote academic research, curriculum development, and outreach programs in international business.

Funded by the Department of Education, CIBER plays a vital role in producing cutting-edge international business research, promoting international ideas within the community, and fostering worldwide learning among Temple students and faculty. As one of only 17 centers in the country, CIBER has received continuous federal funding since its inception in 2002.

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The media’s buzzing this year about the coming artificial intelligence revolution and how it will impact U.S. jobs. Robots of varying shapes and sizes have graced the covers of nearly every business and technology publication, and experts are weighing in on the threats and opportunities.

But there has been little discussion in popular media about how AI and automation will impact emerging markets. To learn more about the issue, we spoke with Bertrand Guillotin, the Fox School’s International Business program’s academic director and an assistant professor of instruction.

Fox’s International Business program was recently ranked No. 1 in North America and No. 2 in the world for research by the University of Texas, Dallas Business School Research Rankings, and it is one of the Top 15 International Business programs according to U.S. News & World Report. The program’s research is published in the Journal of International Business Studies, and it includes three Academy of International Business (AIB) fellows (Charles Dhanaraj, Masaaki Kotabe, and Ram Mudambi).

Since one of the hot research topics in international business today is the rise of automation and how emerging markets are positioning themselves for it, we asked Guillotin to share some insight.

Is there a particular emerging market you find especially interesting, in that it exemplifies some of the big changes happening with the global economy?

Take China, for example, because there are widespread changes happening there. The economy is trying to get away from an export based model; they are trying to change to a consumption based, more robust national economy. They have to be leaders in all kinds of industries to do that, including green technologies—though they are the number one global polluter—and they have to be strong in all the value-added industries. If you look at Dalian Wanda, which purchased AMC Theaters a few years ago, they are strong in entertainment and real estate; they understand the importance of diversification in our global economy.

There has been a lot of recent talk about how AI and automation will impact the U.S. workforce, but we don’t hear much about how other countries, like China, are responding to this possibility.

China could lose 50% of their manufacturing jobs in the foreseeable future, maybe the next 10 years, due to automation and AI. If you talk to partners at KPMG, who are responsible for forecasting what trends are going to catch traction beyond the hype, they’ll tell you it’s still too expensive to put AI and automation in place on a large scale. It’s happening, yes, but it’s not impacting all the jobs the same way. Low-skill jobs will be automated, and we’ve been doing that for centuries already. We do things on a daily basis that are not value-added, but if those things are automated, we benefit because we can focus our brain power on something else. It is a huge question for China, because if they automate too many jobs, they may destroy their national economy. But I don’t think they’ll do that. The cost-benefit analysis has to be made and they will make it.

Is AI and automation a popular topic for international business students?

Yes, issues like this are what make our International Business program very attractive. We have these discussions and we reconcile the different positions. We explain what they need to know to be successful in a world that’s always changing very quickly. We launched the International Business minor last year and we’re now attracting students from six different colleges at Temple, including liberal arts, science and technology, media and communication, and so on. We’re expecting more than 100 students in the minor this year. It’s an exciting time to study international business and our increased enrollment and rankings show that.

For our students, we need to be very clear that they need to keep working hard to stay on top of the game. Beyond their degrees, and beyond graduation, they need to keep educating themselves and keep acquiring skills that cannot be automated. If you stay on top of your skill requirements and continue to train and grow and learn, even if you are in manufacturing, you can survive. But if you just look at the status quo and think the U.S. has been on top of the global economy for decades and that will never change, that’s not going to work. The U.S. has a good chance to stay competitive, but we have to be serious and work together.

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Representatives of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute meet with winners of the 2016 Innovative Idea Competition.
Dr. Arvind Parkhe, Chair of the Fox School’s Strategic Management department, delivers remarks during the AIB/iBEGIN joint conference. (Chris Kendig Photography)

In October, Temple University’s Fox School of Business welcomed more than 200 of the world’s leading academics, consultants, and practitioners for a three-day conference on international business, global cities, and innovation.

The Fox School hosted a joint conference Oct. 27-30 of Academy of International Business-Northeast Region members, as well as iBEGIN scholars. In 2013, Fox School of Business Professor Dr. Ram Mudambi and a team of researchers founded iBEGIN – which stands for International Business, Economic Geography and Innovation – to study the connections between global value chains and the locations of economic activity.

The first conference of its kind, held at Temple’s Alter Hall, explored the ongoing global move toward horizontal specialization.

“The world economy is changing in very fundamental ways, and that’s because of a shift in the role of cities,” said Mudambi, the Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategy at the Fox School. “Previously, all activity would take place in the same city – innovation, design, manufacturing, assembly. Today, we’re moving from local systems to global systems, and cities are becoming centers of specialization. For example, the Bay Area is known as a hub for software engineering and Chicago for commodities trading, to name a few. These cities perform different tasks and, in doing so, they aren’t competing with one another. Instead, they are collaborating.”

The AIB/iBEGIN conference welcomed a number of prominent speakers and panelists, including the following deliverers of keynote addresses:

  • Dr. Saskia Sassen, the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and Centennial Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, from whom the term “global city” originates
  • Dr. Keld Laursen, Professor of Innovation and Organizational Economics at the Copenhagen Business School, and President of the Technology and Innovation
  • Management Division within the Academy of Management
    Dr. Sharon Belenzon, Assistant Professor of Strategy at Duke University

This marked the third iteration of iBEGIN conferences, and the first that bridged with the AIB regional conference. The conference continues to expand its global reach, welcoming guests from four continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.

Representatives of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute meet with winners of the 2016 Innovative Idea Competition.
Dr. Ram Mudambi, Speakman Professor of Strategy at the Fox School, leads a discussion. (Chris Kendig Photography)

The conference closed with a dynamic panel discussion on global value chains and industrial clusters; it was chaired by Dr. Ari Van Assche, the Director of the International Business Department at HEC Montreal. Panel participants included Dr. Harald Bathelt, Research Chair in Innovation and Governance at the University of Toronto; Dr. Gary Gereffi, Director of the Center on Globalization, Governance, and Competitiveness at Duke University; and Dr. Timothy Sturgeon, Senior Research Affiliate at the Industrial Performance Center at MIT.

“This powerful panel centered its discussion on clusters of innovation and the concept of cooperation over space, once again calling attention to the modern economy in which we live today,” Mudambi said. “In order for clusters to succeed, they need a particular identity and they need to be the best in the world at what they do.”

The Fox School of Business is at the forefront of international business education and research.

Fox’s International Business Administration program has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top-15 undergraduate programs in each of the last five years. The program receives support from a robust study-abroad program, through Fox and Temple University, as well as from the Institute of Global Management Studies and the Temple Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), both of which are based at Fox. Temple CIBER is one of only 17 such elite centers in the nation to have had its grant-renewal proposal approved for federal funding from the United States Department of Education. Temple is the only university in Pennsylvania to have received federal funding for CIBER.

In 2016, the Fox School’s International Business faculty earned prominent national and global rankings from the University of Texas at Dallas Top 100 Business School Research rankings. Fox’s faculty ranked No. 3 in the United States and No. 6 in the world for research quality and productivity, for publications in the Journal of International Business Studies over a four-year period, from 2012-2015.

Representatives of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute meet with winners of the 2016 Innovative Idea Competition.
Dr. Masaaki Kotabe, President of AIB International and Washburn Chair Professor of Strategic Management at the Fox School, engages with fellow panelists at the AIB/iBEGIN joint conference. (Chris Kendig Photography)

Located in Philadelphia, the second-largest city on the East Coast of the United States, Temple’s Fox School of Business is positioned for international business excellence. Philadelphia recently became the first U.S. city to earn designation as a World Heritage city.

Additionally, the Fox School is home to AIB President Dr. Masaaki “Mike” Kotabe, who is serving the second year of his elected three-year term on AIB’s Executive Board, as well as Dr. Bertrand Guillotin, Chair of the AIB Northeast Region.

“The Academy of International Business is the most-prestigious and most-relevant community of scholars and practitioners in the world,” said Guillotin, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at Fox, and Academic Director of its International Business Administration programs. “Coordinating a comprehensive conference like this helps to solidify the Fox School’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading international business clusters.”
–Christopher A. Vito

Profs. Susan Mudambi (Marketing) and Nick Dahan (IB) were both recognized with a Best Reviewer Award at the Academy of International Business 2014 annual conference, in Vancouver BC.

Masaaki 'Mike' Kotabe Congratulations to Masaaki Kotabe, the Washburn Chair Professor of International Business and Marketing, and his coauthors for their forthcoming article “Examining Complementary Effect of Political Networking Capability with Absorptive Capacity on the Innovative Performance of Emerging-Market Firms”, in prestigious Journal of Management.

MasaakiKotabe3Masaaki Kotabe, the Washburn Chair Professor of International Business and Marketing, and coauthor Kristiaan Helsen, launched the 6th edition of Global Marketing Management, published by John Wiley & Sons.

Michael ValenzaProfessor Michael Valenza taught an EMBA law and business ethics course in Singapore during the Summer 2014, and gave a presentation on the legal aspects of the territorial/maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Photo of AIB Conference PanelIB Professor Ram Mudambi and Doctoral students from Fox School of Business, Politecnico di Milano, and Copenhagen Business School organized a Panel Discussion on “Global Connectivity as the Basis for Local Innovation” at the AIB  annual conference in Vancouver BC, in June 2014.

Panel speakers also included Profs. John Cantwell (Rutgers, JIBS Editor-in-Chief) and Felipe Monteiro (Insead).

Photo of Milton BriceMilton Brice, VP of Corporate Finance at The Hershey Company was a guest speaker to the International Business student Association in Spring 2014. He gave a presentation on “Building an international Consumer Packaged Good business”.

The Journal Citation Reports® 2013 based on Thomson Reuters’ Social Science Citation Index™ (SSCI) indicated that Journal of International Management (JIM), edited by the Fox School of Business, at Temple University, has the journal’s 2012 Impact Factor increased to 2.2. JIM’s acceptance rate is 7.8%.

Image of H.E. Bakhtiyar GulyamovVisit of H.E. Bakhtiyar Gulyamov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the USA, on Nov 20 2013.

His Excellency presented Professor Mudambi with a traditional hand-made glazed pottery.

mb-sarkarProfessor Mitrabarun “MB” Sarkar Great Teacher Award Winner 2013.
This is Temple University’s most prestigious teaching award.

Image of David OhDavid Oh, Philadelphia City Councilman, and Chair of the Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative Economy, spoke on Feb 5, 2014, before the IB student association.

Image of Ahmed Al MughairyVisit of Her Excellency Hunaina Sultan Ahmed Al Mughairy, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman to the USA, on Oct 8, 2013.

Fox School ranks No. 12 worldwide for International Management in QS Global 200 ranking, 2013/14 edition