Charles Stevens is an Assistant Professor of Management at Lehigh University. Below he details his travel overseas which is funded by Faculty Grant for International Connections through the Office of International Affairs at Lehigh.
I am currently in Tokyo, Japan as a visiting scholar at the Nihon University College of Economics. Nihon University is a large private research university with campuses throughout Tokyo. To put its large size into specifics, the university has about 70,000 students, and even the college of economics has approximately 7,000 students, putting just this one college at a size even larger than all of Lehigh in terms of the number of students! In spite of these seeming differences, however, there are many similarities with Lehigh. Interacting with the students has been very rewarding, as they are intelligent and inquisitive. I know some Japanese from my time living in Japan, but even if I did not, the students have been proactive in interacting and engaging in dialogue with me in both Japanese and English. Many have an interest in studying abroad, especially in English-speaking locations like the universities. When I talk about Lehigh to the students here, their eyes light up when they hear about the challenging academic environment as well as the proximity to global cities like New York and Philadelphia. Likewise, Nihon University would be an attractive location for Lehigh students wishing to study abroad, as the university offers many classes in English, it too has a vibrant academic environment, and the university is situated in Tokyo, the exciting and important economic, political, and cultural heart of Japan. At a time when Asia is increasingly powerful in terms of its role on the world stage (note that China is the world’s second largest economy, and Japan is third), familiarity with this important region is of utmost importance for Lehigh graduates.
I received a Faculty Grant for International Connections to come to Nihon University for 3 weeks to help build the potential for faculty and student exchanges between the two universities, as well as to interact with students, deepen connections with faculty, present research seminars, and collect data for an ongoing research project. Before leaving Japan, I will give a seminar on one of my main areas of professional and personal interest: political risk. I look forward to engaging with the faculty and students on this issue.
Culture is another area of specialization for me, as it represents an interest that was cultivated when I spent time in Japan as a student and also working in industry. Working for a Japanese company in Japan was an unforgettable and rewarding experience, as I saw how culture permeated everything from individual-level interpersonal interactions to big-picture strategic decisions. As part of an active research project, my research team and I will use student responses to a survey to answer research questions relating to the impact of cultural values on outcomes of interest to organizations, such as trust, commitment, and cultural intelligence. I look forward to seeing how the Japanese students’ answers to the survey questions compare to the answers of students at U.S. and Chinese universities, who will also be completing the survey.
In sum, my time at Nihon University has been a very rewarding experience, and I am grateful to both Lehigh and my hosts at Nihon University for the opportunity.