A blog utilized for in-class instruction for Purdue students in conjunction with an Innovation Grant from the Purdue University Office of Globalization

In Paris, France at the Third European Academic Research Conference on Global Economics, presenting my research paper, “Beyond NAFTA: Concluded Regional and Bilateral US free trade agreements (FTA’s) and an assessment of trends in trade with their new partners”

and presenting “Leadership Succession in Multinationals: Case studies and evidence” as an invited lecturer.

Fact about the paper:  This study assessed trends in trade for recently completed US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners in order to determine the merits of domestic industrial faction claims that FTA’s hurt overall US exports.  The study found that the US has not only witnessed the predicted increases in imports after the FTA went into effect, but has also witnessed comparably more success in exporting to new FTA countries in the immediate aftermath of a successfully concluded FTA.  This evidence should better substantiate the claim of the recent presidential administration and economists that “made-in-America-exports” would benefit as a result of the successful negotiation of a new US FTA.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 11% (World Bank)

Country’s most Important Industries: machinery, aircraft, nuclear energy

Economic Freedom ranking: #75

WWII fact:  The French Resistance, the underground movement that fought against German occupation from 1940-1944, included economic attempts to thwart the Germans, including the striking of workers from the national coal company, Charbonnages de France.  The goal was to cause difficulties for German industrial plants operating in France.

Conference Certification

This conference has been certified by leading global accreditation institution on the selected criteria “Technical & Scientific”.  After my paper was accepted to the conference, I was further honored when asked to be an invited lecturer to make a special presentation from a 2012 research paper published in the International Journal of Human Resource Studies.

Conference Marketing Caption

Conference Marketing Caption

Presentation to Invited Lecturer of Traditional Indian Scarf

Presentation to Invited Lecturer of Traditional Indian Scarf

France joined the Euro-zone in 1999.  The country is currently an economic leader of the EU and has political clout in dealing with potential crises.  France is considered a secular country and a major internal focus on the country is to integrate a comparably high Muslim population.  France experiences greater unemployment and government spending as compared to its European counterparts, including high tax rates of up to 34.3% for some companies.

The Paris inter-city rapid transit network is renowned for it’s density of kilometers and number of lines within the central city region.  The subway system, or metropolitan (metro), posted enlarged maps of the various lines on the walls outside of the trains, but contained no maps of the various lines inside the train (see below).  However, the metro included a very handy sequence of lights that lit up depicting distance traveled along the line.  That made traveling along the line more understandable.

Inside the Paris metro

Inside the Paris metro

Paris metro at Anvers stop

Paris metro at Anvers stop

The second most noteworthy soccer tournament behind the World Cup is the Euro Cup, which is played every four years among the European countries.  France was the host for the 2016 Euro Cup.

A soccer venue

A soccer venue

Paris has been called the cultural hub of Europe, and the health of the French economy has come to rely on tourism.  The Euro Cup was a boon for tourism, and drew 1.5 million fans from around the world, generated 1.3 billion Euros to the domestic economy, and created 104,000 total jobs (France Diplomatie, 2016).  However, this was the first year that the tournament was played while on heightened alert due to tensions related to recent terrorist attacks in Europe.  As such, the security was beefed up.  Note the armed guard within eyesight of one of the entry ways to a public viewing Euro Cup venue.  Over 90,000 security personnel were expected to be employed for the tournament.

Armed Security Guard in background

Armed Security Guard in background

National pride has been especially strong in France since the coordinated terrorists attack in Paris on November 13, 2015 that killed 130.  This has translated into sponsorship increasing by 40% as compared to prior Euro Cups (Forex, 2016).

French Sponsor of Euro Cup

French Sponsor of Euro Cup

Paris is very much known for their relaxed neighborhood cafe scene.  Generally, soccer is viewed publicly in this culturally prominent atmosphere.

Typical soccer viewing

Typical soccer viewing

But since the Euro Cup tournament was hosted by France and played in various venues throughout the country, demand and interest were extremely strong, prompting the city of Paris to coordinate various public viewing venues.

Public Viewing venue

Public Viewing venue

On a side note, I was a day away from the terrorist attack at Ataturk airport in Istanbul coming to France from Bulgaria.  Over 1.2 million tons of freight flows through this airport annually, which has seen a spike in cargo in recent years.  In 2013, a 10,500 square mile cargo hub was built to accommodate increased traffic of goods (Manners-Bell et al., 2014).  Turkey has positioned itself as a supply chain and logistics facilitator due to it’s geographic influence in-between Asia and Europe.  Historically, trade between the Middle East and Europe went through Turkey.

Ataturk Airport Cargo tour

Ataturk Airport Cargo tour

 

Rotterdam, Netherlands (Study Abroad planning)

Rotterdam is a progressive, multicultural city whose mayor is the first in the country to be an immigrant, a Muslim no less.  New Economy (2016) noted that “Rotterdam has embraced innovation and experimental programs in order to develop into one of the world’s most sustainable cities.”  The city has been chosen as the host of the 2025 World Expo, an international conference which addresses major global issues.  It’s been stated that “people were drawn to the city because of its new smooth running transportation networks” in the past several generations (Rotterdam Marketing, 2016).  The New York Times included Rotterdam as a “Place to Go” (New York Times, 2014) and it was named one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet.  The city is quickly becoming a hot tourist destination, with overnight stays in hotels going up by 14% in 2014 (Economische Verkenning Rotterdam, 2016).

The Netherlands employs the least percentage of its citizens in manufacturing of all European nations (European Union Eurostat, 2016), but serves as a supply chain epicenter.  The Port of Rotterdam, which we will tour, is the largest port in Europe, and an integral cog in the European supply chain.  It handles more cargo than any American port.  The port currently boasts “safety, accessibility and sustainability” as key priorities (Port of Rotterdam, 2016).  We will learn about key components of “Port Vision 2030” as outlined by their leadership team.  The port recently received a loan of 900 million Euros by the European Investment bank due to the need for increased capacity, and has been labeled by the EIB as a “vital organ” of the European region (European Investment Bank, 2015).  One modern usage of the Port includes the Innovation dock, a group of intermodal manufacturing workspace occupied by young entrepreneurs wishing for improved supply chain access for their products.   The innovation dock first came about several decades ago by Van Gelder, who created the Innovation Dock area along with a community of houses and residential spaces behind it so workers didn’t have to travel far for work.  It was the first known community to offer pensions around the world.

Innovation Dock at Port of Rotterdam

Innovation Dock at Port of Rotterdam

Den Hartough, Liquid Logistics Carrier entering the Port

Den Hartough, Liquid Logistics Carrier entering the Port

The Port sees 315.2 million metric tons of incoming throughput every year and 129.6 million metric tons of outgoing throughput every year.  Automation and technology are constantly being upgraded.  Cranes often pick up and unload containers; only 50,000 of 19 million containers are scanned in full.

Port of Rotterdam Crane

Port of Rotterdam Crane

Generally, food in Rotterdam is high in carbohydrates which is said to have evolved because foods high in carbs were needed for the working class during the formation of the country.  Similar dishes are eaten for breakfast and lunch in Rotterdam, consisting of bread (bagels) with toppings such as Dutch cheese.  Mashed potatoes with a meat dish is common for dinner, and natural juices tend to be a customary drink.

Immigrant flows into Holland have given rise to the types of restaurants opening for business.  This trend included Spanish and Portuguese in the 1920s and 1930s, Turkish restaurants in the 1950s and 1960s, Moroccan restaurants in the 1970s and 1980s, and Polish restaurants today.  Residents of refugee camps established near Rotterdam during the Vietnam War have started lots of Vietnamese restaurants.  Many Surinamese restaurants are found in Rotterdam, because many from Surinam relocated to Rotterdam in 1975 after being granted independence from the Dutch in which they were previously a colony.

Popular Surinamese Restaurant

Popular Surinamese Restaurant

Markthal (Market Hall, see photo below) is a public venue built in 2014 that has been called the food mecca of the Netherlands.  It contains 96 restaurants and 228 apartments.  Whereas Rotterdam was rebuilt after World War II with mostly office buildings, there tended to be a problem for businesses after the close of the workday due to the lack of activity, so since the 1980s, new venues have been built with apartments and residential accommodations in mind.

Markthal in Rotterdam

Markthal in Rotterdam

Near Rotterdam’s newly renovated central train station are sites constructed in the square-mile area in the city’s once-thriving commercial district which was completely flattened during the Rotterdam Blitz, a surprise aerial attack by the German air force on May 14, 1940 that occurred in the midst of official German-Dutch negotiations and prompted immediate surrender by the Dutch government.  The Blitz was a catalyst for a change in British bombing policy that led to banning the bombing of any civilian-industrial areas.  Below is a picture of City Hall, which survived the Blitz other than a few bullet holes from German gunmen, which still can be seen in the structure today.

Rotterdam City Hall with German bullet holes

Rotterdam City Hall with German bullet holes

Erasmus University in Rotterdam features the internationally recognized School of Economics and School of History, Culture, and Communication.  One means of getting to Erasmus University and around the port is through a water taxi, which is free for all college students attending school in Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Water Taxi

Rotterdam Water Taxi

In Elenite, Bulgaria at the Materials, Methods, and Technologies International Conference, presenting my research paper, “Assessing China’s Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements in Steel Exports:  A more useful strategy for the industrialized world in fighting FTA’s than filing WTO anti-dumping grievances”

Fact about the paper: The past few years have seen sharp increases in Chinese steel exports, leading to heightened protectionist practices within the US and the EU.  This study analyzed the merits of these anxieties by analyzing the direction of Chinese steel to determine if Chinese steel is flowing to their FTA partners moreso or to developed countries without FTA’s in place.  The study finds that that regional Chinese trade partners have imported more steel exports than their bilateral partners and as such, there could be an economic rationale for China’s non-FTA partners to negotiate new, mutually beneficial FTA’s.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP) xx% (World Bank)

Country’s most Important Industries: IT, telecommunications, textiles, transportation

Economic Freedom ranking: #60

WWII fact:  Bulgaria were on the side of the Axis powers for 3 1/2 years until they were overtaken by the Red Army, in which time they switched allegiances to the Allies.

Session Schedule

IMG_2120

Conference Presentation

Conference Presentation

The country was communist and under the rule of the USSR from the end of World War II until the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989.

Bulgaria borders the Black Sea on its east and is otherwise bordered by other countries in Europe, which are generally less economically viable than other European countries.  The beach area was first created in 1958 by the communists and was not open to the public.  Bulgaria derives much of its economy on trade associated with the Black Sea and is a member of the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

Black Sea

Black Sea

Because of the Russian-sponsored project transporting natural gas to Bulgaria via the Black Sea (the South Stream gas transit pipeline), many sunken, medieval pirate ships have been discovered.

Pirate Ship

Black Sea Pirate Ship

Prague, Czech Republic (Study Abroad planning)

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 27% (World Bank)

Country’s most Important Industries: energy, automobiles & automobile components, electrical engineering, machining

Economic Freedom ranking: #21

WWII fact:  Prague was the only Central European capital to avoid the bombs of the last century’s wars and is one of Europe’s best-preserved historical cities. 

The Czech Republic is the longtime industrial center of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, and more than 40% of its workers are employed in industry, which is well above the EU average and the highest of any country in Europe (EuroStat, 2016).  The reliance and emphasis on production can be partly credited to its historic and current proximity to markets.  The country has one of the highest economic concentrations of GDP originating from automobile design, manufacture, and supply-chain around the world (Czech Invest, 2016).  A total of 54.2% of all exports are products within the automotive industry (CZ, 2016).  In fact, the country supplies parts to every automobile manufacturer in Europe (Czech Ministry of Trade, 2016).  There are numerous automobile R&D and production centers in the country, including Volkswagen (the owner of the Škoda automobile factory), Toyota, and Hyundai.  The automobile industry is credited with giving the country a high per-capita income as compared to its European peers.

Since the Velvet Revolution, the Czech Republic has dived into capitalism and globalization.  Today, the country boasts one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU.  After joining the EU in 2004, its global competitiveness has made it the heart of many European global networks.  The economy grew from less than $50 billion GDP in 1989 to over $200 billion today.

This influx in economic development is led by the automobile industry.  A tour of the Skoda factory will allow further understanding of the modern production process, particularly the design and production of their new 7-speed automatic transmissions.  Skoda has produced automobiles since 1895, and since 2000 has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen.  It currently produces more than 1 million cars annually.  During the German occupation, the factory was utilized for production of German military vehicles.  Like many Czech industries, Skoda went through massive management changes after the Velvet Revolution and the influx of privatization brought by the fall of communism.  During this phase, Volkswagen beat out French automaker Renault to win equity rights in Skoda.  The company also produces in India and was voted the most dependable car brand in the UK in 2015.

A Toyota production facility employing 3,000 workers is located right outside of Prague, and production exceeds 300,000 automobiles annually.  This factory touts its environmentally-friendly vehicles and has been certified as ISO 14001:2004.  The company specializes in small vehicles and claims “modern safety and ecological technologies” as core production features.

Czech Food: Cooks weren’t used to using fresh ingredients in the communist days so fresh food is not common and the culture does not have a history of restaurants and eating out.  Soup (polevka), beef sirloin with gravy/boiled sausage/ketchup/mustard inside a roll (the Czech rohlík), and goulash/meat stew with white rice are all common.

Classic Czech Goulash

Classic Czech Goulash

Beef Broth Soup

Beef Broth Soup

Czech kielbasa (sausage)

Czech kielbasa (sausage)

Prague was the last democracy to govern in Eastern Europe, but in 1948, the country became communist and found itself under the rule of the USSR for more than 40 years.  In 1968, reformists galvanized efforts to allow freedom of the press and other reforms until the USSR organized 200,000 troops to storm the country crush the rebellion.  The Velvet Revolution was a non-violent shift to capitalism and democracy, starting as a student protest in November 1989 on International Students’ Day, leading to a non-violent era of political upheaval which ultimately led to the first elections since 1946 in June 1990, thus overturning the one-party communist system.  Students have taken an active role in shaping Prague.  The following picture shows one of many types of classrooms at Anglo American University in Prague.

Angola-American University classroom

Angola-American University classroom

St. Wenceslas Square has been the epicenter of all the major political protests, speeches, and demonstrations over the years, from the Proclamation of Independence in 1918 to events in the German occupation, to communism, and now capitalism.  St. Wenceslas Square includes the historic center of Prague, a World Heritage Site and the famous Charles Bridge, first constructed in 1357 during the reign of King Charles IV, who also founded the first University in the city.  It was first established in 1348 as a horse market.

St. Wenceslas Statue at St. Wenceslas Square

St. Wenceslas Statue at St. Wenceslas Square

Politických vězňů  (Political Prisoners’ Street) commemorates those brave citizens who were imprisoned for their political beliefs, in most cases those beliefs under communist rule.

Political Prisoners’ Street

Political Prisoners’ Street

The building pictured below on Political Prisoners’ Street served as the Prague Gestapo (German) headquarters and many local Czech citizens were held here and interrogated.  Anyone speaking out or leading a campaign could be labeled as an enemy of the state.

Gestapo headquarters on Political Prisoners’ Street

Gestapo headquarters on Political Prisoners’ Street

Also in Prague is a venue containing the Munich Agreement document, a contract stipulating that Britain and France would cede the Sudetenland of the Czech Republic.  This agreement occurred with unacknowledged Czech protests and is seen as a low point in the history for the country.

Operation Anthropoid was a Czech code name for a plot to assassinate key leaders of the Nazi occupiers in Prague in May 1942, in conjunction with British special operations and the Czech government in exile.  The Czechs successfully killed a major Nazi leader, which drew forceful German retaliation, including the killing of 5,000 Czech political leaders.  750 German troops pursued the leaders of Operation Anthropoid to St. Cyril Church where they had been secretly taking refuge.  After two hours of gunfire, the plotters committed suicide.  The photo below shows how flowers and wreaths are laid at the battle scene in commemoration of these brave Czechs today.

Flowers at St. Cyril church

Flowers at St. Cyril church

The country’s first democratic/capitalist leader, Vaclav Havel, is credited with redirecting its economy after playing a key role in the Velvet Revolution.

Vaclav Havel statue

Vaclav Havel statue

The Bohemian Crystal Glass Factory is known across the continent for quality glassware production, including world-renowned vases, champagne bottles, fruit bowls, and premium spirits containers.  Glass factories first began production in the 13th century in this region of Bohemia.  Bohemian glass surpassed Venetian glass as the standard in the region several centuries later.  Decorative glass eventually became a popular standard of the region’s glass production, and today the Czech Republic is known for its superior glass production.

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Bohemia Crystal Glass Factory production area

There were more than 100 glassmakers in the region in the 1700s.  In 1989, some of the glassworks organizations were bought by family members of the original owners, including the Bohemian Crystal Glass Factory.  Today they have 120 employees.  The glass is made of 40% recycled glass and 60% chemicals.

Bohemia Crystal Glass Factory production area

Bohemia Crystal Glass Factory production area

Bohemia Crystal Glass Factory cutting department

Bohemia Crystal Glass Factory cutting department

The Communism and Nuclear Bunker Tour of Prague and the Museum of Communism are both relevant examples of how the limitations and suppression of the old communist regime set back the production capabilities of the country for much of the twenty-first century.  While the country was the center of production for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the advent of communism thwarted much of the usual production capabilities.  This tour highlights relevant communist and capitalist moments between the 1940s and the Velvet Revolution, including information related to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s coordinated assassinations of capitalist leaders in Prague during the 1950s.  The bunker could hold 150 people for 2 weeks.  The VIP Hotel above the bunker was for VIP’s and important people in the Communist Party.  An escape tunnel went to Wenceslas Square 15 meters away.

The picture below shows the interrogation room in the bunker.  Drugs would be often used on prisoners in efforts to make them give up more information.

Interrogation Room

Interrogation Room

The picture below shows a map with the various nuclear bombs in Czechoslovakia pointed West, along with the points of the various Communist armies.

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Map on Wall showing Soviet Army and Nuclear bombs

Munich, Germany

In Munich, Germany at International Journal of Arts & Sciences (IJAS) Conference for Education, presenting my research paper, “Recent WTO Accession in Developing Nations and Their Trends in GDP Related to Domestic Manufacturing Outputs”

Conference

Fact about the paper: This study finds that in the years immediately after the WTO accession process, an increase in domestic production of manufactured goods occurs, presumably prompted by export demands for these goods in new markets in the developed world.  While complaints from the developed world for a more stringent accession process may accelerate as a result, the WTO will continue to have the increased authority as arbitrator for these demands as well as for anti-dumping grievances.  As an international institution, this group can and should tout the trade success of new members based on historical trends showing increased domestic output as a result of successful completion of the accession process.

Session Schedule

Conference Presentation

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP) 23% (World Bank)

Country’s most Important Industries: aerospace, automobiles, skilled crafts, environmental technologies

Economic Freedom ranking: #17

WWII fact:  The Munich agreement was a stipulation in September 1938 allowing Nazi Germany’s annexation/takeover of German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia in exchange for no further territorial demands (regarded as an act of appeasement), which was later reneged upon by Germany.

Munich is both a cultural hub, as the center of the famed Oktoberfest, and the economic engine/high-tech center of Germany.  Munich is home to many multinational industrial operations, and more than 90,000 students attend its Universities.  The city touts an advanced public transportation network and world-renowned infrastructure, which is partially credited for its efficient supply chain capabilities.

Munich Subway

Munich U-Bahn train with schedule on screen

President Eisenhower observed the German transportation infrastructure as a General in World War II and used it as an inspiration for the Interstate Highway System program of the 1950s.

German Auto-Bahn

German AutoBahn

“In 2012 Munich and its region was ranked at an exceptional second place in the European Regional Economic Growth Index (E-REGI) among nearly 326 competitors from 33 countries in Europe (Colliers International, 2016)”.  The City of Munich (2016) touted on its website, “In terms of turnover and the number of employees, automotive engineering is the single most important branch of industry in the Munich Metropolitan Region.”

Germany is the leading country in the EU in automobile production and has been called “the world’s automotive innovation hub” (Germany Trade & Invest, 2016).  Bavaria, the Southern region of Germany of which Munich is the largest city, claims 180 Tier 1-4 automobile suppliers.  Factories for Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Opel (GM), Audi, and BMW are located there.

IMG_1855

Mercedes-Benz facility

Bavaria boasts “modern solutions for sophisticated requirements in supply chain management of automobile manufacturers” (Invest in Bavaria, 2016).  The City of Munich (2016) states that “400 automotive companies employ around 128,500 people” in the city and “The entire value chain is based in this region, including everything from research and development through production to the supply industry.”  Munich University offers a bachelor’s degree in Automotive Engineering and Management.  Munich is home to a prominent BMW factory.  This state-of-the-art facility includes the Press Shop, Body Shop, Paint Shop, Engine Shop, Production of Interior Equipment and Seats, and Assembly.

Munich food: Bavarian cuisine, inspired by the Bavarian dukes of the Wittelsbach family, was originally intended to be for the refined and only for royalty and includes bratwursts, German potatoes, sauerkraut, warm red cabbage salad, veal, and German pretzels.  These foods increased in availability over time as common people started making money.  Today, these foods are especially popular during the Biergarten season, which starts in May and lasts until Oktoberfest.

German Cheesehouse

German Cheesehouse

The Royal Palace: First constructed in 1385, the Royal Palace is the largest city palace in Germany and is a former home to Bavarian monarchs.  It was reconstructed after having been damaged during World War II.  Some German cities established commissions to determine how to rebuild after World War II and while some such as Frankfurt chose to rebuild in a modern fashion, Munich chose to study old photographs and rebuild its old town area to replicate the original design, which includes the Royal Palace and other relics of the city’s historic center.  The city subsidizes rent for established markets in these areas so that American-style fast-food restaurants do not overtake the current tenants and take away the charm of the historic old town area.

Dachau concentration camp:  Dachau was the first concentration camp in Germany and was a model for subsequent camps.  It was constructed for initial purposes of holding German and Austrian political dissidents.  It eventually took in Soviet prisoners and also served as a concentration camp for over 10,000 Jewish men.  More than 4,000 political dissidents were killed there, which was against the Geneva Convention.  Post-war, it was used by the Allies to hold SS guards awaiting trial and as a military base until 1960.  Its official records totaled 206,206 prisoners.

Dachau quarters

Dachau Concentration Camp quarters

Dachau gate

“Work Sets You Free” at Dachau gate

US Army plaque

Plaque Commemorating US Army’s Liberation of Dachau

Rotary International is a global service organization with more than 34,000 clubs worldwide intended to “provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world”.

The first English-speaking Rotary club in Munich

The first English-speaking Rotary club in Munich

Munich meeting of Rotary International

Rotary meeting at Tucherpark German Restaurant

Meeting of Rotary International

Rotary meeting at Restaurant Schneider-Brauhaus

One can witness panoramic view of Munich from the top of the 290 meter high Olympic Tower at Olympia Park.  This area witnessed much economic development after 1966 when the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1972 games to Munich.  It is a case study in how sporting events can be a catalyst for both urban development and private economic development.  The announcement of the 1972 Olympics in Munich set a precedent that the Super Bowl committee adheres to today, as plans are solicited for gentrification and other urban economic development in advance and economic development initiatives are intended to coincide with that event.  The full Olympic-tour provides information related to the ’72 Games, including the infamous Munich massacre in which eleven Israeli Olympians were taken hostage and killed.

The Sirius Industrial Park provides office space and fast transportation links to medium and small organizations in various locations throughout Germany.  Modern production and workshop areas are provided, along with low-rent storage areas and technology capabilities and spacious production areas including metal processing.  The Munich location is one of many that has been modernized after being a former industrial area.  Access to the German Autobahn and other modes of transportation allow the companies efficient logistics and supply chains.

Sign at Munich Industrial Park

One of many signs with directions to companies

Gienger Haustechnik

Gienger Haustechnik, environmental and climate protection leader in building services and industrial technology

French Logistics Company

A French Logistics Company operating in the Industrial Park

Innsbruck, Austria:  Innsbruck is considered a winter sports haven, and has hosted two past Winter Olympics.  Its proximity to nearby industrial cities in four countries, facilitated by efficient infrastructure to and from the city, has allowed it to flourish.  The city elected the first female mayor in Austria.  The Hofburg palace is a former Habsburg Dynasty palace and was utilized by Emperor Maximilian I in the 1400s.  Innsbruck is called the “heart of the Alps”.

Palace and Alps

The Hofburg Palace and the Alps from Innsbruck, Austria

We had an interesting experience as the bus left Innsbruck, Austria.  The bus got stopped as it crossed the German border by German passport control police.  We were delayed by about a half hour while these authorities made sure that there were no irregularities.

German Passport Control Police on the bus

German Passport Control Police on the bus

Colleagues from the conference

Colleagues from the conference

Munich Conference

 

 

Seven academic conferences (plus an additional conference as an advisor for our SMWC leadership club) in three weeks was an exhilarating but exhausting trek involving plenty of content-rich activities but also much waiting for and waiting on trams, trains, shuttles, buses, and planes, which was not fun but necessary.  I was able to visit at least one successful multinational production facility in each city and gained valuable insight to be utilized in future research.  The trip went like this:

Nashville→Iceland→Netherlands→Greece→Romania→Italy→Austria→Portugal

The trip reinforced much of what I enjoy about globalization.  Just like each person has his own personality, each conference and each society has its own distinct personality.  While globalization is making us more similar and homogenized, stark differences in these cultures should still be recognized and if nothing else, respected as we increasingly work together across societies and become interconnected in ways that were unimaginable decades ago.

Specifically, with international industrial management becoming more commonplace in our globalized marketplace (such as Ford’s operations in Craiova or Ossur’s facility in Iceland), a one-size fits all nature of managing and leading becomes an antiquated strategy.  Adaptation, constant change and improvement, and a respect for the culture of the employee, the global consumer, and the vast array of company stakeholders must be carefully considered as decisions and long-term strategies are planned.  With the added external challenges of government regulations, currency fluctuations, economic change, etc., global industrial management faces as many challenges as opportunities ahead.

Just because the trip is over doesn’t mean that the output will cease.  I will be reporting back to the TH Human Relations commission, presenting flags from Vienna and Rotterdam to the Downtown TH Rotary club, and providing Masonic education at our next lodge meeting.  This will be in addition to utilizing various bits and pieces of information for subsequent research and publishings.  This works out nicely because after utilizing much of the past several years dedicated to writing and research for these conferences, there are no bullets left in the chamber and the cupboard is bare.  Perhaps most importantly, information and experiences gathered during the trip will be utilized in classes.

In addition, this trip has allowed for further contributions to the SMWC General Studies revision process of which I am a committee member.  The General Studies vision statement states the college’s support for “the development of leaders who acknowledge the importance of diversity, social justice, environmentalism and global awareness” and I would be proud to enhance and further integrate the concepts learned on this trip into the new liberal arts course requirements.

Knowledge from several disciplines was enhanced based on the interactions at the conferences along with the experiential learning.  The site tours and outreach with organizations allowed for much anecdotal insight.  Disciplines enhanced include:

  • Supply Chain Management
  • Micro/MacroEconomics
  • Organizational Change
  • International Management
  • Quality Production
  • Global Marketing
  • Industrial Management
  • Organizational Leadership

I hope that I contributed to the greater good at every conference attended.  There were numerous conference stalwarts who had been consistently involved in that particular conference for many years and had devoted much of their academic pursuits toward their involvement in that conference.  These were the attendees that took part in every aspect of the conference from formal activities to social events, and I hope that I could provide as much value-added as possible to add to their experience.  I must have exchanged business cards with over 100 colleagues.  With so much traveling and scheduling commitments, there wasn’t as much opportunity to fully engage in every conference in an ideal fashion.  However, the insight gained from colleagues was extremely valuable. It would have been fun to accumulate tote bags, pens, and pads of paper with conference logos from each conference, but this would have added too much weight to the luggage.

Things happened very quickly and I wish I could take pictures of everything that passed or occurred, but sometimes the phone was dead, other times it would have been inappropriate, and other times things happened too fast.  It’s would have been fun to put together a collage of the all the local establishments but that’s just not cool.  Those unassuming experiences represented the heart of the trip as they represented a true reflection of the local culture, whereas no one was on their guard and whereas I was nobody that paid a conference fee to be treated as a guest.  I wish I could record the in-depth, heartfelt conversations with everybody I ran across.  These experiences were extremely fulfilling.

An appropriate bookend to this last academic conference was the World Cup final match between Germany and Argentina.  I don’t consider myself a soccer fan but more of a cultural enthusiast.  It was fascinating to watch fans cheer for their favorite teams during the World Cup.  You could tell much about the immigration patterns and cultural backgrounds by the numbers of fans for or against the different teams which were playing.  Appropriately, I returned just in time to watch the Major League All-Star game.

Some cultural takeaways:

  • Don’t discount coins in Europe.  The least common denomination is the 10₵, which is worth about 14₵ to us. They do have copper-looking 5₵ coins but the prices for items are generally are rounded up to the nearest 10₵, and since tax is already included, you don’t end up with lots of small change in your pocket.  They distribute coins in € 1 and € 2, and oftentimes we Americans dismiss the value of pocket change, but over here it adds up.  The € 2 coin is worth about $2.40.  We Americans should do away with the penny and nickel to achieve similar efficiencies.
  • Don’t wear white socks.  Beyond lugging around the big suitcase, white socks give away that we are Americans more than anything else.  Short black socks are worn with sneakers in Europe…above all else, don’t wear white shoes.  It will send a signal to all that you are an American.  I have learned to blend in and have been able to mix with the culture far enough so that they aren’t aware of me being an American until I speak.
  • If you are someone who gets hot easily, Europe will be challenging during the summer.  There are not too many places with air conditioning, and the air conditioning is not turned on high.  Air conditioning is still a luxury and not an automatic convenience over in Europe.  Also, it seems like everybody smokes.  There are some indoor smoking bans at more of the progressive European nations, but even then, smokers fill the roads and entranceways to establishments.  Expect smoke in the air everywhere.
  • People dress in more formal attire, even when traveling.  They tend to see Americans as acting and dressing in a very casual manner.  If you want to blend it, dress in a more formal fashion.
  • The roaming fees tend to add up so keeping a cell phone on at all times is prohibitive.  Using the roaming for various providers would have taken up all of the maximum MB allowed for the monthly international travel packages allowed from AT&T.  I was only able to use the roaming for about 5 minutes every 2 or 3 hours in order to allow texts and especially emails to go through.  Using the google maps tended to also take up valuable MB, so I brought an old fashioned compass and just walked in a certain direction for 30 minutes in some instances and then checked where I was at later on.
  • People think Americans have money and are potentially gullible.  We don’t speak any other languages, whereas Europeans speak multiple languages.  Beware of those that want to hustle and take advantage of us.
  • Work ethic varies from culture to culture.  Depending on unemployment, job security, importance of time, importance of gratuity, and other factors, don’t expect servers and other people to bow down to your every wish.  They usually work on their own clock.
  • Learn a few key words in the local language as a show of respect to the other culture.  “Excuse me”, “sir”, “madam”, “please”, “thank you”, “sorry”, etc. are good ways of connecting in the all-important initial stages of a conversation.  Most of the time, they will recognize that you are an American and will speak English but appreciate you initial consideration and respect.  There is a great app. called iTranslate that works very well and even pronounces the words for you.

Conclusion:

Manufacturing loss has been especially detrimental to the economies of traditional blue-collar areas such as mid-size Hoosier towns including Kokomo, Terre Haute, and Anderson.  Unemployment rates in these areas are much higher than the state averages, as brain-drains have shifted many in the workforce to hotbeds of service-sector employment where more opportunity exists such as in Indianapolis or Chicago.   Indiana is the #1 manufacturing state in terms of employment (Manufacturers News, August 2006), and Indiana’s mid-size towns have the biggest at stake when it comes to winning and losing because manufacturing is a hefty chunk of those economies.

The abandoned factories and lost industrial jobs have been partially replaced by manufacturing employment from European-based multinationals which have decided to set up facilities in America.  Parent companies from Europe account for 65% of Indiana’s jobs whose parent company is based internationally (majority-owned U.S. affiliate employment), followed by Asia/Pacific countries (24%) and Canada (6%).   It was extremely valuable to obtain firsthand insights as to what factors allow European industrialists to be domestically successful in today’s increasingly competitive global market.  Each culture and each industrial facility had its own distinct competitive advantages and these factors ultimately lead these companies not only export but also to expand their operations internationally.  Immersing yourself in the culture allows for the gaining of societal subtleties and this applies to production as well.  Organizational culture cannot simply be obtained by examining EU policies and regulations such as local content requirements and this experiential learning will be valuable as it’s utilized for future research.

Lastly, I am very grateful to my loving wife for holding down the fort during this “work” trip.

 Portugal

At the Azores Islands (850 miles West of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean), presenting my research paper “Post-Cold War State Industrialization as a Means of Economic Growth in East Asia versus Eastern Europe” at the The European Scientific Institute’s 2nd Annual International Interdisciplinary Conference.


Fact about the paper:  The paper assesses the amount of overall economic advancement attributed to the manufacturing sector since the end of the Cold War, finding that East Asian countries had a higher percentage of their economic progress associated with industry than the countries of Eastern Europe with 26.13% total value-added from manufacturing versus 18.12% for Eastern Europe.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 11.8%, 7th out of 7- least industry-intensive (OECD stats) Country’s most Important Industries: paper, wood and cork, embroidery, and agriculture.

WWII fact:  The islands have been called the crossroads of the Atlantic due to their strategic geography for shipping bases.  While the Portuguese proclaimed neutrality during the war, after becoming wary that German u-boats might overtake the island in 1941, they allowed the British to set up when Winston Churchill found a loophole, which was the 1373 Treaty of Peace which allowed British Basing Rights.

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The conference was held on the University of Azores campus, the only public institution of higher learning on the Islands.  It’s amazing how different the conference venues were on this trip.  It was a stark departure from the University of Vienna’s modern, sleek feel.

Entrance to the University of Azores campus.

Entrance to the University of Azores campus.

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My presentation.

My presentation.

Tropical, Spanish-esque campus.

Tropical, Spanish styled campus.

Tropical, Spanish styled campus.

Tropical, Spanish styled campus.

Their international center, the host area for guests.

The University of Azores International Center, the host area for guests.

At the center of the University of Azores campus.

At the center of the University of Azores campus.

Each conference puts on its own distinct social activities.  The extra time and effort in organizing an academic conference becomes more apparent as the social events unfold.  While the official conference activities allow for much scholarly pursuit, the add-on activities truly give heart to the proceedings and allow for deeper connections with the participants.

The conference held a celebratory Gala at a local Azores restaurant specializing in traditional Azores cuisine, established in 1954.  The dancers represent traditional Azores dance style.

The conference held a celebratory Gala at a local Azores restaurant specializing in traditional Azores cuisine, established in 1954.

The dancers represent traditional Azores Islands dance style.

The dancers represent traditional Azores Islands dance style.

The characters represented at the conference Gala include the dark, crypt-looking character.  This was utilized by women when pirates attacked the island in past centuries to disguise them from the invaders.

A character represented at the conference Gala include the dark, crypt-looking character. This costume was utilized by women when pirates attacked the island in past centuries to disguise them from the invaders.

The Azores Islands have faced economic setbacks in the past decades.  Like many other economically challenged pockets of Europe, they’ve seen emigration and brain-drain.  It’s said that every Azores citizen has some family who have moved out of the area.  A common destination for Azores emigrants has been Boston.  This phenomenon has been similar to challenges faced in other areas of the trip including Athens and Romania.  You can’t blame those that want to maximize their potential for good-paying jobs elsewhere.

Traditional Azores guitar.  The two hearts represent 1) Those citizens that have left the islands for other areas of the world and 2) Those that have stayed on the island.

Traditional Azores guitar. The two hearts represent 1) Those citizens that have left the islands for other areas of the world and 2) Those that have stayed on the island.

friendThe Azores Islands have a unique military history.  They are in a strategic geographic location and have provided a base of operations for many military units over the years that were friendly to the Portuguese government.  After much local debate, the Allies were ultimately awarded access to the Islands in WWII, providing them a strategic aerial base for their operations.  The Islands have been a central strategic points for cargo missions and convoys during several different wars.  The United States has utilized the Azores in recent decades as a potential locale for NATO countries in case of evacuation.

Military museum.

Military museum.

A dolphins watching exhibition sponsored by the conference.

A dolphins watching exhibition sponsored by the conference.

The three flags are prominent in the community.  The flag on the left represents the Azores Islands, with 9 stars for each island.  The middle flag is the Portuguese flag, and the one on the right represents the European Union, of which Portugal is a full member.

These three flags are prominent in the community. The flag on the left represents the Azores Islands, with 9 stars representing each island. The middle flag is the Portuguese flag, and the one on the right represents the European Union, of which Portugal is a full member.

The Azores Islands are also known for their volcanoes.  The volcanoes cover 50 miles over the Islands.  The last eruption from a volcano was in 1630.  Much of the effects of the eruptions can still be seen today in the dark color of the rocks on the shores.  In fact, the lava’s high temperature magma sunk far into the ocean and provided deep wells, which allowed for “experimental installation of electricity generating turbine using the steam from the underground water.  The success of this lead to the construction of two geothermal plants, thereby reducing the island’s dependency on the consumption of fossil fuels”  (Azores Guide).

During the dolphin watching exhibition we were able to see the remote parts of the islands. The dark rocks are actually dried up lava which flowed down from the volcanoes on the islands.

During the dolphin watching exhibition we were able to see the remote parts of the islands. The dark rocks are actually old lava which flowed down from the volcanoes at the top of the islands.

The Azores Islands have developed some specialization in select industries.  One is a cultural lacework ironwork created for balconies and porches.  Another is ceramics, including the Lagoa factory, founded in 1862, which utilized clay found in the Santa Maria island and produced ceramic tiles and other ceramic artistry.  It was an interesting behind the scenes look at this successful multinational production operations.  The “louca da lago” (pottery) containing several surface decor patterns and styles is still made there.  No two pieces are exactly alike.  The production process involves much hand-crafted style involving the pottery-wheel shaping, drying, and hand painting.  The style is inspired by the local landscape.  Like other European production facilities, emphasis is on quality, branding, marketing, pride in craftsmanship, and uniqueness.

Another key industry is their tea operations.  The first tea plantation was established in 1870 when two Chinese gentlemen provided the first crops to be utilized for harvest.  Today, the Azores Islands are the only exporters of European tea.  The Cha Gorreana production facility was founded in 1883 and produces 50,000 kilograms of tea annually.  They export to all areas in Europe, starting as a Royal delicacy but now a drink enjoyed by all.  It takes 6 years to harvest the tea after it’s initially planted and lasts for 90 years of continuous harvesting from March to October if the appropriate pruning and weeding takes place.  Most importantly, it’s a sustainable, environmentally friendly crop with no chemicals or pesticides utilized.  They use traditional production technology that is good for the environment, including the generation of their own power through hydroelectric generators for their energy.  They make green tea and one of their most popular types of tea is the Orange Pekoe, a light tasting tea, which I sampled after touring their facility.

Successful multinational tea production operation in the Azores.

Successful multinational tea production operation in the Azores.

The rollers utilized for oxidation.

The rollers utilized for tea leaf oxidation.

Sustainable crops for 90 years.

Sustainable crops for 90 years.

leaves

I lucked out and was able to be present during the annual celebration of the Holy Spirit.  This included the Street lunch celebration and then the parade down the main avenue.  This is known locally as the “festa”.  Their faith in the Divine Holy Spirit in the Catholic faith, or the Divino Espirito Santo.

Free food and wine for the citizens to commemorate the occasion.

Free food and wine at lunch for the citizens to commemorate the occasion.

Traditional Azores parade scene.

Traditional Azores parade scene.

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During the1200’s, Queen Isabel, who after death was made a Saint by the Catholic church, donated her crown to help famine in Portugal. The statue in the background of the parade is a replica of her crown and represents her generosity.

An appropriate bookend to this last academic conference was the World Cup final match between Germany and Argentina.  I don’t consider myself a soccer fan but more of a cultural enthusiast.  It was fascinating to watch fans cheer for their favorite teams.  You could tell much about the immigration patterns and cultural backgrounds by the numbers of fans for or against the different teams which were playing.

You see quite a bit of soccer fields in parks and cities across Europe.  Unlike the baseball diamonds in the US that are rarely occupied, there are always kids playing on these fields.

You see quite a bit of soccer fields in parks and cities across Europe. Unlike the baseball diamonds in the US that are rarely occupied, there are always kids playing on these fields.

They have exclusive academic academies dedicated to soccer throughout Europe.  Children from all ages are enrolled in these programs and they learn like regular students but also have dedicated soccer coaches and travel all around to enhance their development of the sport.  Their high schools and Universities don’t have sports teams so the soccer academies/clubs basically replace school sports.  They are inundated with soccer at a young age and are often recruited very early on.

Azores soccer academy where students go to school.  Their "football" stadiums are for soccer.

Azores soccer academy where students go to school. Their “football” stadiums are for soccer.

information about the conference can be found here

6 of 7) Vienna, Austria

Austria

In Vienna, Austria, presenting “Gender Diversity in the Board Room: Organizational Trends by Region” at The Fourteenth International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, hosted by the Vienna University of Economics.


Fact about the presentation:  Norway has the most representation of women in their boardrooms.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 18.5%, 2nd out of 7 (OECD stats)

Country’s most Important Industries:  textiles and machinery

WWII fact: After WWI, Austria used the name “The Republic of German-Austria” to identify itself, until Germany outlawed it.  Germany eventually “annexed” Austria and took it for its own during the leadup to WWII.

I'll be presenting in the morning session.

I’ll be presenting in the morning session.

On to Vienna.  Vienna is the capital of Austria and is the cradle of classical music  The city center is skyscraper-free and very pedestrian-friendly city.  It has an unbelievable musical legacy which includes Mozart and Bethoven who made names for themselves there.  This is the second consecutive city I’ve traveled that call themselves a different name than the rest of the world.  The locals of Florence, Italy call (and spell) the city Firenze and the locals of Vienna call (and spell) the city Wien.  

Vienna feels very much like a progressive city.  Everything is more spread out like typical American cities.  The infrastructure is very modern and I didn’t see any potholes.  I bought a round-trip ticket from the airport to the central district of the city via their City Airport Train (CAT), which was very clean, comfortable, and fast.  It had televisions advertising some upcoming city events, and most importantly, it didn’t make stops in-between the destination.

The City Airport Train (CAT)

The City Airport Train (CAT)

The city had an efficient, clean subway system, trams, and buses.

The city had an efficient, clean subway system, trams, and buses.  You can drive over the tram rails (as seen in picture) with ease- not like Terre Haute.

The conference was at the Vienna University of Economics campus.  All of the buildings were constructed in the past 3 years.  While we in America suffer through decreased state budgets for higher education, Vienna is seeing massive amounts of increased investments from their government.

University of Vienna Economics- modern building.

Vienna University of Economics- modern building.

University of Vienna- modern building

Vienna University of Economics- modern building

University of Vienna- modern building.  They were designed by different architects (as you can tell).

Vienna University of Economics- modern building. They were designed by different architects (as you can tell).

As a mayor-appointed commissioner for the City of TH Human Relations commission, I was able to represent that group and will be reporting back to them at our next meeting.

As a mayor-appointed commissioner for the City of TH Human Relations commission, I was able to represent that group and will be reporting back to them at our next meeting.

City of Terre Haute Human Relations Commission

“Valuing Diversity and Promoting Harmony Among All People”
PURPOSE:
To lead Terre Haute in building an inclusive community by:

– Enforcing the Human Rights ordinance.
– Empowering the community to eliminate barriers to equality.
– Educating the public about rights and responsibilities regarding   discrimination
SERVICES:
The Human Relations Commission is staffed by an Executive Director and maintains an office at 1101 S. 13th St., Terre Haute.
If you are experiencing discrimination, you may want to gain more information about your rights. Commission staff is available to answer your questions in confidentiality and arrange a complaint intake, if you wish.
If you are an employer, landlord, realtor, educator, or anyone trying to eliminate discrimination issues and promote diversity in the community, the Commission staff can answer your questions and offer consulting or training.
Presenting at the conference.

Presenting at the conference.

These are the other presenters in our themed sessions discussing Gender diversity.

These are the other presenters in our themed sessions discussing Gender diversity.

The city of Vienna has done much to promote diversity and to integrate the new groups of citizens in to the fabric and culture of its city.

A session from a City of Vienna employee.  There was much insight gained from their diversity efforts, which will be in the report to the Human Relations Commission.

A conference session from a City of Vienna employee. There was much insight gained from their city’s diversity and integration efforts, which will be in the report to the Human Relations Commission.

The city's diversity administration is broken up in to the following departments.

The city’s diversity administration is broken up by the following departments:  1) Gender, 2) LGBT, 3) Age, and 4) Migration.  They have a workshop for new migrants in to their community.

Without a doubt, a key ingredient to attracting Viennese foreign investment has been through workforce education and through retraining efforts directed towards in-demand sectors, spearheaded by regional campuses and technical colleges.  Vienna has excellent technical colleges and programs designed to provide workforce training.  The City gov’t has taken the lead on many of these initiatives.  There is no such thing as a “skills gap” in Austria.  The technical training and specialized jobs have plenty of applicants.  The advanced manufacturing jobs available in their multinational factories have plenty of trained, qualified workers.  Factory executives from other areas in Europe know this, and are more apt to steer production operations to Vienna because they know that the jobs will get filled.  This cultural trait helps the overall economy.  The City government facilitates with this collaboration.

This is the Hofburg Palace, former residency of the rulers of the Habsburg dynasty and Austro-Hungrian Empire.  It's the current home of the Austrian Presient.  A fellow Freemason showed me their temple/lodge, which is located inside.

This is the Hofburg Palace, former residency of the rulers of the Habsburg dynasty and Austro-Hungrian Empire. It’s the current home of the Austrian President and is over 1,000 years old.

My guide, a fellow Freemason, showed me some hidden Masonic sites and some historical public sites around the central area of the city.

My guide, a fellow Freemason, showed me some hidden Masonic sites and some historical public sites around the central area of the city.

I was able to say hello via an official Letter of Introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana.

I was able to say hello via an official Letter of Introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana.

Well, well, well.  His Masonic Temple is hidden within a passage.

Well, well, well. His Masonic Temple is hidden within a passage of the Hofburg Palace.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

I was able to tour the Augarten Porcelain Manufactory.  It’s the second oldest porcelain factory in Europe and was originally chartered by Emperor Charles VI so the company could produce porcelain for the Royal Family.  They currently have 60 employees, including 15 painters and 15 production employees.  They actually closed down from 1864 due to the technological advancement of mass-producing porcelain and thus undercutting them in price, but were re-opened in 1924 with a new strategy for hand-crafted, artistic styles.  It takes 3 years of apprenticeship to become a full-fledged employee, but the company doesn’t hire an apprentice if a regular job won’t be available in the future.  This apprentice-model of learning technical skillsets is very common among the Germanic people.  The company doesn’t utilize lasers in their production, since the public wouldn’t accept the title of manufactory.  They didn’t allow for taking pictures of workers.

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 Augarten Porcelain Manufactory

A nice change of pace involved attending a Metallica concert at their Krieau Rocks venue.  I met up with some lively kids from Slovakia on the way to the show and they were really cool and nice enough to allow me to hang out with them during the show.  The crowd looked pretty much the same as a crowd during an American Metallica concert.  It’s when they talked that the differences became apparent.  Austria has a cultural tendency to gravitate towards this genre of music, and it was a blast.  The venue’s acoustics were excellent but the ground was rocks rather than the grassy, picnic-y setting of most American venues.  The vendors were impossible to access as well.  Otherwise it was lots of fun.

Me with some guys who made the trip from Slovakia who I hung out with at the concert.

Met with some guys who made the trip from Slovakia who I hung out with at the concert.

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I was again able to attend a Rotary club meeting.  Their meetings during the summer take place at different cultural places in the area.  This one was at a local art studio.  The artists were unveiling a new art campaign, which was supported by Rotary.  You can access a pdf of the description here:  Floating Rock

An artist who hosted the Rotary meeting at his art studio showing us his new art campaign.

An artist who hosted the Rotary meeting at his art studio showing us his new art campaign.

The meeting lasted about 3 hours and we had a great time.

The meeting lasted about 3 hours and we had a great time.

My host Norbert, who previously worked in Silicon Valley.  He looks like a cross between WWE wrestler John Cena and local sportscaster Jason Pensky.

My host Norbert, who previously worked in Silicon Valley. He looks like a cross between WWE wrestler John Cena and local sportscaster Jason Pensky.

The traditional Rotarian exchanging of flags.

The traditional Rotarian exchanging of flags.

Lots of wine was drank and the artists passed out some renditions of art for us to keep as a souvenir.

Lots of wine was drank and the artists passed out some renditions of their art for us to keep as a souvenir.

Again, soccer (football) was a focus of the trip.  I expected the crowds for the Germany/Brazil “match” to be very pro-Germany, since Austrians speak German.  However, I soon found that many Austrians have a bit of a rivalry with Germany and don’t necessarily have the most warm feelings toward them.  There were actually more citizens that rooted against Germany than for Germany.  From what I understand, this is due to a history of feeling like the little brother to German dominance.  While many of the cultural variables are the same, Austria has often been overpowered by German might, whether it be economic or military power.  It was lots of fun to take part in these cultural festivities and the game was an absolute blowout- Germany won 7-1, which is the equivalent of an American football score of 64-3.

A venue where Brazil fans got together.  They were not in good spirits as the evening progressed.

A venue where Brazil fans got together. They were not in good spirits as the evening progressed.

The next night went in to penalty kicks and unfortunately the Dutch went down.

I stumbled upon a Latin American-themed Socialism restaurant, where many Argentinian fans gathered to root for their team against Holland.

I stumbled upon a Latin American-themed Socialism restaurant, where many Argentinian fans gathered to root for their team against Holland.

All around a very good conference.

All around a very good conference.

information about the conference can be found here

Italy

In Florence, Italy at the Business & Economics Society International conference, presenting my research paper titled “American Inward Foreign Direct Investment: Trends in global industrial origination”


Fact about the paper:   While many reports have noted trends toward decentralized manufacturing to underdeveloped areas in the past decades, there has been a lack of studies related to manufacturing dollars coming into America in the form of Inward Foreign Direct Investment.  This paper finds that even during the worldwide recession, between 2007 and 2010, American IFDI from Asia related to industry increased by a whopping 29%.  IFDI also increased originating from Europe during this time.  Shifts accelerated by the global recession point to an increase in dependence on manufacturing, especially the IFDI originating from Asia.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 16.3%  3rd out of 7 (OECD stats)

Country’s most Important Industries: electric goods, fasion, and the auto industry

WWII fact: The Ponte Vecchio, aka “Old Bridge” was the only bridge in Florence to survive, since the Germans, who occupied the city in 1944, blew up the bridges to thwart the incoming British.  From ’43-44, the city was occupied by Germany.

Florence was the capital of Italy from 1865-1871 and is called the Jewel or Capital of the Renaissance.  Due to the many public squares and historic buildings, the city is often referred to as an open-air museum.

I took this picture looking down on Florence.  This is the view of the picture at the header of this blog :)

I took this picture looking down on Florence. This is the view of the picture at the header of this blog:)

This is the Ponte S. Niccolo, a main bridge in Florence.  It was bombed and destroyed in 1944 (subsequently rebuilt)  as Italy was being bombarded by the Allies.

This is the Ponte S. Niccolo, a main bridge in Florence. It was bombed and destroyed in 1944 (subsequently rebuilt) by the Germans (who occupied the city after the Italians switch sides during the war) to thwart the incoming British.

The Fortezza Da Basso (Fortress of St. John the Baptist), built in the 14th century to protect the Pope in case of revolt or attack.

The Fortezza Da Basso (Fortress of St. John the Baptist), built in the 14th century to protect the Pope in case of revolt or attack.

Typical Florence playground- the kids play soccer instead of basketball.

Typical Florence playground- the kids play soccer instead of basketball.  I can attest that they love their soccer here.  Even when the Italian team had already been knocked out of the World Cup there was much passion and interest.

This is the house were Galileo lived and ultimately passed away.  He discovered Jupiter's moons and sunspots on the moon from this residency.

This is the house were Galileo lived and ultimately passed away. He discovered Jupiter’s moons and sunspots on the moon from this residency.

Today, Italian manufacturing is dominated by small and medium sized businesses.  There have been burdensome domestic regulations in the past that many economists attribute to the current lack of large production facilities.  Oftentimes, well-intended laws tend to hurt the economy in the long run.   Local laws that help in the short run can hinder an economy in the long run.  One such law (in my opinion)  is the EU local content laws that mandate a minimum percentage of certain products be assembled in Europe.  In the US, the isolationist-minded Smoot Hawley Tariff act of 1930 was intended to help domestic producers, since international goods would thus be very expensive, but it ultimately thwarted international commerce so much that it drove up prices due to lack of competition.  It remains to be seen what similar well-intended laws like EU local content laws do to the pan-European economy in the long run.

An example of a very successful small multinational production operation is the Pierotucci factory, which I was able to tour.  The company was established in 1972 and had 20-30 sales representatives, selling to the locals.  As the company become more successful, they eventually moved their operations out of the center of the city.  The first non-domestic customers were Japanese women, who loved their handbags.  The top sellers today for men are belts and wallets, whereas the top sellers for women are handbags.  They only use Italian leather because it is of the highest quality and that’s what their global consumers expect.   Today, less than .5% of the business is sold domestically.  They can design specialty items for an extra two days wait.  The production facility use  hydraulic presses and utilize vegetable tan leather…vegetable tan leather is the style of leather used when carving is needed.

Pierotucci leather factory site

Company sign

Company sign

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From their website: The Pierotucci leather factory has been producing hand crafted quality leather goods for nearly 40 years. Employing only skilled Italian leather artisans with decades of experience, who pour their heart and soul into creating leather masterpieces, the Pierotucci leather factory has established itself as a leading producer of leather goods in Italy. The factory not only supplies merchandise for its own showroom and boutique, in the past years they have produced leather goods for famous fashion designers as well. Famous names like Fratelli Rossetti, Cole Haan, Bally and Hugo Boss have outsourced their leather production to the Pierotucci Leather Factory. With quality and timely delivery, Pierotucci leather factory continues to design and create its own lines of leather goods.

Freemasonry was banned in Italy from 1922-1945.  Dictator Benito Musollini saw Freemasonry as a threat, presumably because of their belief in personal liberty and free media. Musollini sent his “Black Shirt” thugs to burn and destroy Italian Masonic lodges/temples when he first became dictator.  Over 100 Masons were killed in Florence as they tried to defend their lodges.  He was quoted as saying ““Masonry must be destroyed and Masons should have no right to citizenship in Italy. To reach this end all means are good, from the club to the gun, from the breaking of windows to the purifying fire… The Masons must be ostracized… Their very life must be made impossible.”

After receiving an official letter of introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana, I was able to send this to Cristiano Franceschini, owner of the “Museum of Masonic Symbols”.  I would have been able to gain access to the museum either way, but the letter allowed me access to a local lodge which he belongs.

Official Letter of Introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana

Official Letter of Introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana

Upon arriving, I presented him with a Masonic pin from the Grand Lodge of Indiana.  He was very grateful and indicated that he will add this to his collection of pins in his museum.  He said that it took him 40+ years to build up his artifacts.  He provided me mountains of fascinating information and then gave me a personal tour of Masonic history hidden within the city of Florence

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This is the attire for a Masonic person from Massachusetts during the era of the Founding Fathers.

I won’t bore everyone w/ these artifacts, but I most enjoyed the section devoted to American Freemasons.  I wasn’t aware that Native Americans have a rich history of Masonry.  It was first presented to them as a way to develop mutual understanding and brotherhood from the European settlers.  Both Sitting Bull and and Geronimo were Freemasons.

Native American Masonic history.

Native American Masonic history.

Native American in Masonic attire.

Native American in Masonic attire.

 

Grandfather of Cristiano, who was forced to abandon Masonry during the Musollini regime.

Grandfather of Cristiano, who was forced to abandon Masonry during the Musollini regime, from 1922-1944.

He graciously gave me a private tour around Florence to show me the different places involving a piece of Masonic history.  We started talking about famous Italian-Americans and I learned that Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was a Mason.

Showing

Cristiano showing me a piece of one of the medieval walls built around the perimeter of the city as protection were preserved after the demolition in the 1800s.

Cristiano showing me a piece of one of the medieval walls which were built around the perimeter of the city as protection that was preserved after the demolition during the 1800s.

Both of us in front of a lodge in Florence.

Both of us in front of a lodge in Florence at the top of the Monte Alle Croci hilltop overlooking Florence.

As for the conference, it was first rate all the way.  This was the first conference that provided up to date journals in related disciplines for the attendees.   The hotel where the conference was held was a 4 star venue and were were able to eat there as well.  I enjoyed that they assigned “discussants” for each paper to help facilitate dialogue (along w/ the theme chair) after the presentation.  Being a discussant was enjoyable, as it allowed for the opportunity to delve in to more specifics of a research paper from a similar discipline before the actual presentation.

I'll be presenting my research paper in Session 12 alongside authors from Portugal, Scotland, Canada, and the Czech Republic.

I’ll be presenting my research paper in Session 12 alongside authors from Portugal, Scotland, Canada, and the Czech Republic.

 The powerpoint presentations for one theme were projected for the sessions on a plasma television.

The powerpoint presentations for one theme were projected on a plasma television.

My presentation

My presentation

information about the conference can be found here

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