Systematically Leveraging Relationships to Facilitate
Temple University Internationalization
By Guntram Werther
Professor, Strategic Management, Fox School of Business, Temple University and Executive in Residence, Thunderbird: The School of Global Management
Faculty and administrators have traditional sources of funding and relationship building, which are only a small portion of the available options. Traditional sources of university research funding, whether local, state or national governments or grant-giving agencies, are under financial stress. More to the point, these organizations were never the best way to facilitate an elite international presence. In most parts of the world, success is heavily tied to personal introductions and to strong personal relationship building, and is often through informal, rather than formal, networks. The slow, formal, and institution-centric approach to getting monies, building research relationships, and to internationalization itself typical in U.S. university grant searching approaches is by no means the only way to approach the problem of building a robust, elite, and well-funded international presence.
After two decades of working, almost entirely independently, within high management and executive levels of quite literally the largest firms and organizations in the world, The Fox School of Business’s Department Chairs Richard Lancioni (Supply Chain and Marketing) and Arvind Parkhe (Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship) asked in April of 2011 whether I would be willing to informally leverage some of those relationships to FSBM’s advantage . The idea is to foster internationalization efforts, as well as try to bring relationships to FSBM that would enhance its stature in academia and within the education marketplace. Dr. Parkhe summed this clearly as – paraphrasing - “Whatever you do, make sure it is world-class.”
With that low bar, during the summer of 2011, I initiated seven lines of inquiry via well-placed persons, explaining that FSBM had achieved several academic quality ranking milestones, was on the up elevator, and wanted to build mutually meaningful, solutions-based relationships. I was hoping for one or two successes at those levels.
At this writing, all seven lines of communication are ongoing (none refused), with activity through their institutional processes continuing on Temple/Fox’ s behalf (two at Board of Directors level for discussion), and three principals (one President, one King (tribal), and one Training Program Director of a major global firm) have taken active steps and actually begun the Temple University/Fox School of Business relationship. Additionally, during October 2011, I approached a colleague who once oversaw $1.54 billion effort (not a typo) in alumni giving spanning 18 months for another top-ranked university. He has offered to personally introduce Temple/Fox to two large corporations ($64 billion in 2010 revenues; $21 billion in 2010 revenues respectively).
Finally, from experience I knew that foreign students in the USA are often from well-connected families in their home countries. Informally, during May of 2011, I asked four BA 3103 (Integrative Business Applications) students the hypothetical of whether they would: 1) be willing to introduce Temple/Fox top quality faculty to top faculty within their home countries in order to build stronger international teaching/research relationships, 2) whether they had an interest in building entrepreneurship business relationships of benefit to both countries (mutual development incubator projects in which they would participate), and 3) whether, if those relationships were built, they would agree to serve as ambassadors.
All readily expressed interest, and one stated she had a mother and uncle who worked at high level for the President of her country. In discussing this with Dr. Mike Smith (Supply Chain) as a hypothetical, he suggested that independent study might be a route to give such students formal credit. Within the Fox School, international students already have ongoing liaison with The Institute for Global Management Studies, and often within the International Business Association, a student service organization. The former is a logical placement for such a systemic initiative of this kind, in conjunction with our Entrepreneurship and Innovation program (ranked #11 nationally).
In discussing this idea with several Temple/Fox faculty and program managers, none knew of any effort anywhere to systemically leverage undergraduate home-country relationships with entrepreneurship programs to build winning outcomes for the student, university faculty, and the communities of the respective countries (ours/theirs) via international business and trade development.
The previous discussion topically sums my ongoing part-time and entirely privately funded efforts, since only April 2011, to address the request that I leverage relationships to Tempe/Fox’s international and reputational benefit. I now turn to four thematic approaches, which may each be replicable at scale if Temple University decides to systematically leverage its faculty relationships to facilitate Temple University internationalization.
It takes little explanation to show that if one Temple faculty, newly here at that, can open so many doors – potentially to over twenty-five global multi-billion dollar firms, and some foreign governments – in only five months while working at it part-time, then a few hundred Temple Univer-sity faculty doing more or less the same will of necessity propel Temple University, and their respective departments, into the elite ranks of internationally focused universities.
Doing that does not require squeezing scarce funds out of granting agencies. Or governments.
It requires fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, making phone calls/sending emails, and thereby leveraging systematically that wealth of relationships that Temple University faculty and Temple students already possess to formulate win-win value propositions that simultaneously aim at high achievement, career and country development, and Temple University reputation enhancement internationally. Some efforts will fail. Others mature in unexpected ways. •