BOSTON—What did you do during your summer vacation? A dozen Harvard Business School professors spent ten days on an "immersion" in the People's Republic of China. Organized and led by Baker Foundation Professor Warren McFarlan, the trip gave faculty from the School's various academic units the opportunity to experience the culture of China and better understand the complexity of doing business there.
The range of activities for the group included meetings with the managing director of global trading company Li & Fung, the deputy governor of The People's Bank of China, and the president of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway Company. The professors' itinerary also took them to locations such as the Esquel Group's textile factories in Gaoming and Guangdong, the China Merchants Bank in Shenzhen, and Tsinghua University in Beijing, where they met with deans and faculty members from several departments.
"My colleagues were impressed by how many of their former students were working in China," said McFarlan, who also noted that HBS has had presence in the region for many years. "The School opened its Asia-Pacific Research Office in Hong Kong in 1999 and, in conjunction with Harvard University, the Harvard Shanghai Center in 2008 to help faculty members' research and course development."
Several new cases are already being written based on faculty experiences during the immersion. "The insights my colleagues gained will help give our students a much clearer understanding of how business is done in this part of the world," said McFarlan, who worked with HBS China scholars Regina Abrami and Bill Kirby a few years ago to develop the popular second-year elective course Doing Business in China.