Dr. Bill Wresch on a plant tour in Vietnam.

First-hand emersion in business culture is what led an elite group of 18 business faculty from around the United States to travel to Vietnam for two weeks in January.

College of Business Associate Dean, Dr. William Wresch, spent this time learning and analyzing the business practices and projected outlook for both factories and agriculture within the country.

Spending one week each in Saigon and Hanoi, the group visited two factories or businesses per day, exploring the struggle Vietnam’s businesses are experiencing under communist rule.

“There are a lot of overall low-paying jobs in a market with a fair amount of competition,” Dr. Wresch explained. “We were provided the opportunity to see every angle of production from the factory floor to management.”

Street vendors in Vietnam.

“It was an interesting way to see how an agricultural country attempts to industrialize- what’s working and what’s not,” Dr. Wresch explained. “There are two basic problems from what I could see. Their workers do not work in teams very well; they prefer to work individually. The management is the other source of the problem. Universities don’t challenge students with application. They come out of college very intelligent based on practices taught out of books, but lack real world experience from an internship, for example.”

Politics also greatly affects the way business is operated in Vietnam. During the trip, it was very apparent the fear Vietnam has of China, Dr. Wresch noted. “The Vietnamese government won’t accept Chinese investment in their banks, nor will they allow the purchase of Chinese-manufactured computers.”

This eye-opening experience provided insight in politics, developmental processes and problems, labor difficulties as well as management education. Dr. Wresch pointed out the seamless application this trip will have in his classroom teachings. “This is the hands-on experience students want to hear about.”

The Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), sponsored by the United States Department of Education, provides out-of-country opportunities for business faculty to become immersed in international practices in order to bring their experiences back to the classroom.