WMU News

Chinese professors examining how WMU trains MBAs

April 1, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- The international renown of the Haworth College of Business MBA program and the accomplishments of one of its faculty have lured two Chinese scholars to Western Michigan University for a two-month visit.

Professors Nie Fengying and Wei Xiu Fen arrived last month to consult with accounting professor Dr. Roger Tang, the Pharmacia Chair in Business Administration, and to observe American MBA teaching methods. Nie and Wei are involved in planning one of their nation's first agribusiness master's programs, which will be taught in Beijing and Tianjin, China. The program is being planned in cooperation with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and is sponsored by Winrock International, a nonprofit organization that supports projects worldwide to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources and protect the environment.

"WMU is very experienced in MBA education, and both Dr. Tang and the University's program are famous in China," says Nie, who is an associate professor and deputy director of the Department of Information Research at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing. "We have come here to learn directly from Professor Tang and to observe the U.S. teaching style. In the U.S., MBA classes are smaller and students interact with the professor more than in China, where it's mostly lecture format. In my country, we don't always have a lot of case studies to share with our students. Here, the MBA students not only learn the knowledge intellectually, but they also get hands-on experience in how to handle real business problems."

Nei and Wei, who is an associate professor at Tianjin Agricultural College, will also play host to Tang in June, when he visits their cities to teach two management accounting courses in the agribusiness program, which will be launched in May. During their stay in Kalamazoo, the Chinese scholars will be working with Tang to develop his course material.

"With the Chinese economy growing so quickly, there is a great need for MBA graduates in that country, especially those who are fluent in both English and Chinese and who understand the differences in the cultures," says Tang, who was born in China, educated in Taiwan and the United States, and who will teach the courses in Chinese. "Some people estimate that there's a demand for as many as 350,000 MBAs right now. That may even be a low estimate. If you consider that there are more than 100,000 foreign-owned enterprises operating in China right now, and if each of them needed just three MBA-level executives, that alone would account for the reported demand. Today, even U.S. universities are producing only about 180,000 MBAs each year, and China educates only a few thousand. The expansion over the next decade will be huge."

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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