UB MBA Students Help Open Doors to Trade in China

By Jacqueline Ghosen

Release Date: October 8, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Twenty-five MBA students from the University at Buffalo School of Management have begun to investigate opportunities for local firms to conduct business in China.

The project is part of an international business practicum offered through the University at Buffalo School of Management in conjunction with the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara (WTCBN).

Holly Sinnott, WTCBN's executive director, said the project will be executed in three phases. Students will spend phase one at WTCBN offices, where they'll research the metal-stamping, legal-services, automotive-supply, and plastics industries, among others.

The students will investigate the China market in the context of each industry and will consider a variety of factors, including political environment, GNP, labor, market size, trade regulations, inflation, import/export statistics and social structure.

"The exact nature of their research will vary by industry," said Sinnott. "Intellectual property protection might be critical in one industry and the volatility of local currency might be important to another."

In the next phase, students will work closely with local companies in the specified industries to explore the competitive advantages and disadvantages of their products and services in the Chinese market.

"This is where the real value of this program becomes evident," said John M. Thomas, interim dean of the School of Management. "Our MBAs will be able to make a tangible contribution to Western New York companies and our local business community will reap the benefits by gaining solid information about trade opportunities in a new market."

For the third and final phase of the practicum, the 25 students will travel to China in January, where they will continue their research by working with affiliated World Trade Centers in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

As part of the study tour, students will participate in several Chinese cultural events. "This will give them an understanding of the market that research alone cannot," said Thomas. A significant portion of the trip will be funded by a grant from the Freeman Foundation, with additional funding from the George F.-Isabel W. Rand Memorial Fund.

The WTCBN is the only comprehensive trade-services provider in the Buffalo Niagara region and its mission is "Building Economic Vitality Through Global Trade." It is part of the World Trade Center Association, the world's largest international trade organization, representing 750,000 businesses in more than 100 countries.

While this will be the first time many of these students visit China, UB is no stranger to the country. The UB School of Management launched the very first U.S.-style MBA program in China in 1984 and UB currently has two Executive MBA programs there -- at Renmin University and Motorola University.