[photopress:St_LouisEMBA.jpg,full,alignright]St. Louis as a name is somewhat unusual but important for it clearly shows its French background.
In 1678 the French explorer La Salle claimed the entire valley for France. He called it ‘Louisiana’ after King Louis XIV. In 1703, Catholic priests established a small mission at what is now St. Louis.
In 1765, St. Louis was made the capital of Upper Louisiana. It then went through a series of French and Spanish governors until it was acquired from France by President Thomas Jefferson for the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisana Purchase. On March 10, 2803, the French flag was replaced by that of the United States.
So St Louis has a French and Spanish history and is also landlocked. Yet its university, specifically the Olin School of Business, has always looked abroad.
Jim Little, Ph.D., professor of finance and economics at the Olin School of Business, said, ‘I think it’s been one of the best things the school has ever done. And I don’t mean to be insulting to St. Louis, but it’s all the more impressive because we’re here in the middle of the country. Running the Executive M.B.A. program in China is something you’d expect from a West Coast school — a place a little closer to China.’
In 1984, Jim Little was invited to teach a program to senior Chinese managers about strategy. He loved the place. He aid, ‘Even though China was starting to open up, it went very slowly. The government was reluctant to go full-bore on any capitalist ventures. Western companies started to go to China, but they were running around with very little effect. There was nothing really established there yet.’
Years later, the dean of the business school at the time, Stuart I. Greenbaum, Ph.D., initiated an EMBA. program in Shanghai at Fudan University and turned to Little for help in directing the program.
In a very perceptive comment Jim Little, said:
‘If you think about international business, you really have to start digging in at the institutional level — not just formal institutions like government and universities, but also things like property rights and national culture. It starts taking you very far a field from what you’ve started out to do. International business is much dirtier and fuzzier than international economics.
‘Economics brings together those strands. I had an interest in trying to understand why and how people behave the way they do. Ultimately, it is a social science, even though we do it by writing symbols on a blackboard.’
Source: University of St Louis