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By Ashley Festa

In the socialist economy of China, business partnerships often have more to do with cultural respect than money. Even an unintentional offense can cause a deal to crumble.

Because these details are crucial to doing business in China, Dr. Osman Özturgut wanted his doctoral students to learn cultural decorum firsthand. He believed offering a variety of international experiences would enhance his students’ global competencies and leadership skills. So, Özturgut brought to UIW a professional development program called Triple Helix, which he modified to include an international aspect. China became the first stop.

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Dr. Louis Agnese (center), UIW president; Dr. Patricia Watkins (third from right), vice president emeritus; and Dr. Osman Özturgut (second from right), assistant professor of teacher education; join doctoral students who participated in the Triple Helix program for a photo on campus.

As the name suggests, UIW’s new Triple Helix Executive Leadership for Global Competitiveness™ program offers a mix of theory and practice to teach students necessary skills for professional success anywhere in the world. Özturgut, coordinator for international education and entrepreneurship concentration in the Ph.D. program and assistant professor of doctoral studies, organized the course to combine aspects of business, industry and education and reveal how each strand of the Triple Helix contributes to the strategy and benefit of the others.

“We don’t assume that innovation happens by a single driver or institution,” Özturgut said. “Universities can’t be innovative without collaboration with industry and government. Those innovations become policies. They reframe economic structure at the national and international level.”

The course begins in UIW classrooms with lessons in historical context and Confucianism, current Chinese culture, social issues, global economy, and politics.

“It’s hard to understand China today without understanding its history as well as the current place of China as a global leader, as one of the world’s largest markets,” said Dr. Pat Watkins, vice president emeritus and consultant to the president. Özturgut invited Watkins to join the program because of her expertise in Chinese culture developed through nearly 50 visits to the country during her tenure as vice president for international programs.

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The Ronggui Chamber of Commerce takes the Triple Helix participants to visit a factory that produces heavy machinery. The group visited multiple manufacturing and production sites while in China.

To conclude the course, the nine doctoral students traveled to China for two weeks to experience how theory applies in practice. Thanks to Harley Seyedin, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in South China, the UIW students were able to meet some of the highest-level executives in government, industry and university positions. Seyedin also met with students to share insights on economic changes happening in China, both locally and globally.

“He made it clear that China would soon be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with developed countries like America,” said Rolando Sanchez, who is working toward a Ph.D. in education. “It was like a blinking message in neon lights that read, ‘This is real-life economic development in practice.’”

The American travelers also learned the importance of cultural etiquette in China. During a business meeting in Shenzhen, a Chinese CEO, firm owners and young entrepreneurs welcomed the students as colleagues for a professional discussion. The many topics included joint venture prospects and challenges, particularly the need to understand the Chinese way of doing business.

“Over there, 85 percent of joint ventures fail because of cultural incompetence and misunderstandings,” Özturgut said. “If you don’t understand culture, you cannot succeed.”

The UIW students now more fully appreciate that reality. “I see that relationships are key within the Triple Helix model,” said Denise Ramon, an international education and entrepreneurship doctoral student who expects to graduate in Spring 2016.

Part of the Chinese way includes a hierarchy of respect, evidenced at the meeting. After the top-level executives concluded the dialogue, the young entrepreneurs, who were the business owners’ children, took the UIW students on a tour, explaining more about the company.

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Participants after a meeting with the Ronggui Chamber of Commerce, Shunde Investment Bureau, American Chamber of Commerce in South China officials, and multiple corporate executives (chairman, CEOs and owners).

“The young professionals shared their thoughts about Chinese business in the future,” Sanchez said. “This was really beneficial because it provided a detailed perspective of the business strand of the helix that was evolving in China.”

“China is making dramatic changes that will not only affect its economy, but its society and ways of leading,” Ramon said. “All changes seem to stem from what China has learned from its own history and from other countries.”

For its next class, the UIW Triple Helix program will forge more new relationships, this time in Europe. Students will focus on the European Union in Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom for another aspect of executive leadership for global competitiveness.

For more information on the Triple Helix program at UIW, email Dr. Osman Özturgut at ozturgut@uiwtx.edu

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