Since 2016, four Drexel LeBow faculty have been recognized as Fulbright Scholars, receiving grants to support high-level research abroad. In this article, the researchers, who span the fields of economics, management and marketing, share the cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary perspectives gained on complex, global issues.
Assessing Eastern Europe’s Unique Economic Conditions
LeBow’s most recent Fulbright recipient is School of Economics Professor Bang Jeon, who received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to teach and conduct research at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies (BUES) in Bucharest, Romania. Professor Jeon will study the impact of an increasing presence of foreign global banks on domestic banks, banking sector stability and monetary policy transmission in host emerging markets.
Jeon has previously visited universities and central banks in China, Hong Kong and Korea, researching the impact of global banks on the host emerging Asian economies. Through his studies, he observed that Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) presents a unique opportunity to study the behavior of multinational banks in emerging markets. The foreign bank penetration ratio is very high in CEE, with more than 70 percent of total bank assets possessed by foreign banks. Jeon notes that Romania has one of the highest ratios among emerging economies at 85 percent as of 2014, making it an ideal area to study these effects.
“Since my research areas are related to current global issues, I do my best to expand my global perspectives and horizons in terms of teaching and research,” Jeon said. “BUES has an excellent faculty team dedicated to research in global banking and finance in the CEE region. Beyond conducting research on the global project, my goal is to share these experiences with colleagues and students here at Drexel and explore opportunities for mutual benefits.”
Collaborating with Top-Level Tax Experts
United Kingdom, 2019
The prospect of continuing a collaboration with a long-time research partner was, in part, what drew Professor of Economics Konstantinos Serfes to the United Kingdom for his 2019 Fulbright. Serfes traveled to the Tax Administration Research Center (TARC) at the University of Exeter, UK, to collaborate with Christos Kotsogiannis, the director of TARC and a Professor in the economics department at Exeter, on issues related to Value Added Tax (VAT) thresholds.
TARC regularly hosts visiting scholars and presenters from diverse backgrounds in economics, law and accountancy to collaborate on tax-related topics. Interacting and attending workshops with other experts, Serfes said, gave him “the opportunity to learn about issues other countries are facing and different approaches to solving challenging problems.”
VAT, Serfes explains, is a relatively efficient tax system used in most countries throughout the world, in which companies that are producing a good pay tax on the value of that good at different stages of its production. During his time at Exeter, Serfes and his collaborator developed a model that captures the entire production chain in a market in order to examine the incentives of intermediate goods firms to transact with final goods firms, as well as how the VAT threshold influences these transactions.
“Too high a threshold compromises the basic objective of raising revenue,” Serfes says, “and too low a threshold may leave the authorities overwhelmed by the difficulties of implementation and impose excessive compliance costs on taxpayers.”
Emerging from his Fulbright experience, Serfes said preliminary findings suggest that accounting explicitly for the entire production chain matters for the determination of the optimal VAT threshold.
A Perspective on American Companies — and Culture — from Abroad
When Daniel Korschun, associate professor and Cozen Research Scholar in marketing, arrived in Italy, he predicted to some of his colleagues that Italian companies would soon be taking political stances, the way he has observed American companies doing.
“I got a lot of people saying, ‘it’s not going to happen in Italy,’” he recalls. “There’s a lot more interest now — it’s happening very quickly.”
Korschun’s Fulbright fellowship allowed him to continue and deepen his research on political stances taken by companies. From his vantage point in Rome, where he taught at the Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli (LUISS), he examined how foreign perception of American companies — and of the United States in general — is shaped by the companies’ political stances.
During Korschun’s time in Italy, two major companies in the entertainment industry, Netflix and Disney, took strong stances against abortion legislation in Georgia, threatening to pull their productions from filming in the states.
Does that change how Italians view the United States as a whole? It might, says Korschun.
“When more iconic companies take these stands, it changes perceptions of what Americans are like,” he says.
Now back in the US, Korschun and his co-authors, who are based at universities in Italy and France, continue to gather data on how Italians view the U.S. and companies based in America.
“This was a chance to break out of the assumptions about the American market,” he adds. “The Fulbright opens a lot of doors and makes it easier to meet people. In Europe, people acknowledge cultural differences from country to country, whereas we have a more uniform way of looking at the world here [in America].”
Innovation in India’s Emerging Economy
When Vadake Narayanan, Drexel LeBow’s Deloitte Stubbs Professor of Management, traveled to India to conduct research in 2016, it was his first trip back to his home country in decades. By studying innovation through the lens of business incubators funded by the Indian government, Narayanan was looking to the country’s future, when its total population will top 2 billion and the youngest generations today will seek employment.
Narayanan studied five academically affiliated business incubators that are home to both regular startups, as well as those focused on social-impact innovation — that is, making a positive impact as well as turning a profit.
From his base in Ahmedabad, he collaborated with faculty members at the Indian Institute of Management, as well as with faculty at the Institute’s Bangalore location. In total, he interviewed more than 50 incubator managers, entrepreneurs and government officials.
The positive side of incubation in India, Narayanan says, is in the social impact space.
“The social entrepreneurs I met are doing things that are really novel and out-of-the-box. I would even go as far as to say that, with regard to social incubation, these startups are far ahead of the game compared to incubators I find in the U.S.,” Narayanan says.
One professor he met requires students to go out into rural areas to find out what’s needed to improve those economies. Students create an assessment and provide a solution. Successful social startups have come out of those projects.
“Comparatively, the private businesses I met with incubating in India have a lot of catching up to do,” Narayanan says. “They are in the early stages of the learning curve.”
After publishing a policy piece in Organization and Management Review in 2018, Narayanan is continuing to analyze data for a future publication.