School, Faculty Invest in Emerging Economies
In January 2009, Cliff Young, Professor of Marketing and Associate Dean of Faculty, and Wayne Cascio, Robert H. Reynolds Professor of Global Leadership, traveled to Vietnam to participate in a faculty development trip in international business, sponsored by the Business School and CU Denver’s Center for International Business and Educational Research (CIBER). The group spent several days in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi studying Vietnam’s rapidly emerging economy and also travelled to the Mekong Delta and the limestone structures of Halong Bay.
"It was like a town under rapid construction—they were trying to build as fast as they can," Young reports. The country is still dominated by communist rule, but they have embraced the principles of a free-market capitalist economy. "We were told by academics from Hanoi Business School that the current situation is one of ‘market-oriented socialism.’ The socialism part was added to make it palatable to politicians," says Cascio.
For the 86 million people living in Vietnam, they have a long way to go. The government is still dealing with powerful provincial governments that cause inefficiencies. There is also a large disparity between the rich and poor. According to Cascio, "The lack of a large middle class and low pay for civil servants are big obstacles and encourage corruption."
As a part of the trip, the Business School professors also visited a small rural school in southern Vietnam built with funds from Cargill, a Western company investing in the emerging country. These schools allow rural children a chance to receive an education without having to travel miles to more populated areas. At the end of the trip, Young, Cascio and several of their colleagues contributed to Cargill’s fund to build more schools in Vietnam.
They were surprised at the apparent love for American culture in Vietnam. Most of the population is too young to remember the war—Young noted that the people are "so focused on moving forward into the future, they are having too much fun." As a culture, they are choosing not to focus on the past.
Vietnam is eager to catch up with the rest of the world’s economy. As the country eagerly pursues corporate America’s "China plus one" strategy, hoping their less expensive labor costs will allow their economy to benefit from foreign investment, they are likely to emerge as a major player in the world market. As Young states, "the goal was to make us aware of how these economies will affect us. And they already do."
Reprinted from spring 2010 14th St Journal