MBA's get immersed in Ireland's business environment


Richard Zanetti, just back from Ireland where he studied the phenomenon known as "Ireland - The Celtic Tiger" as part of Fairfield University's MBA program, says, "You just can't duplicate in a classroom in Fairfield" what he and 13 other students learned by being there.

The Fairfield students recently spent a week in Ireland, immersing themselves in the study of the economic, political and cultural characteristics of that country's business climate. A focus of their study - "The Celtic Tiger" - refers to today's booming economy in Ireland and comparisons to the once-booming economies of Asia.

Following their stay in Ireland, several of the students - all employees of Connecticut-area multinational firms - commented that the immersion provided an in-depth view of the dynamics of modern Ireland as a high-technology, highly educated, and prospering member of the European Union. Zanetti, a Fairfield resident who works for McGraw Hill in New York (which has operations in Ireland), said the experience "implanted in all our minds that managing in a different country requires a lot more than basic management tools. There are cultural ramifications."

Recently named vice president/publisher at McGraw Hill, Zanetti said the exposure to Ireland, where he had never visited prior to his Fairfield University experience, provided an "extremely valuable experience." He will focus his course paper on the elements that need to be considered for managing in a foreign country.

According to program participants, Ireland has been especially welcoming to transnational U.S. companies in recent years. The Fairfield students visited Citibank's new, international financial services center in Dublin, and General Electric's operations in Shannon.

The MBA candidates also visited the Vistakon Division of Johnson & Johnson, which makes contact lenses for worldwide distribution and which has a state-of-the-art, completely robotic factory in Ireland. The Vistakon facilities are located in Ireland's National Technological Park, which also includes the University of Limerick where the Fairfield MBA students did classroom work.

The University of Limerick, according to organizers, is one of Ireland's leading universities and is the center of preparations for high-technology careers. There, Fairfield students met with Dr. James Keenan, professor of communication, and Dr. Robert DeMichiell, professor of information systems, the senior Fairfield University professors who had designed the coursework in Ireland.

According to participants, students and professors focused on three topics relating to work organizations in modern Ireland: images of work and organization; intellectual capital, and managing cross-culturally. Students worked in teams to collect and collate data on these topics in preparation for their final reports that will be prepared in the U.S. as part of their MBA coursework in management and information systems.

The Fairfield students and professors were joined by several senior faculty members of the University of Limerick, including Alain de Boisanger, co-founder with Clinton Administration Internet advisor Ira Magaziner of the international consulting firm Telesis. In seminars with Prof. de Boisanger, Fairfield students reviewed data and perspectives critical of Ireland's current and future economic development.

The Fairfield MBA coursework in Ireland is part of a series of courses and field studies that are intended to equip the modern manager with multicultural experiences and skills for application to organizations involved in global commerce. Dr. Walter Ryba, dean of the School of Business, said, "Today's manager is, no doubt, the link between the multinational organization and the cultures in which the enterprise's people and stakeholders work and live. Immersing managers and managers-to-be in trans-cultural learning is essential to the future of the world's business."

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 1, 1998