Lehigh University
Lehigh University


In Prague, students find an international business hub

Students in the Lehigh in Prague program can soak up the history and beautiful architecture while studying there.

The Czech Republic has helped to reinvigorate Central Europe’s economy ever since the Velvet Revolution was launched there almost 20 years ago. Fueled by international investment and a thriving business climate, the historic country has solidified its position as one of the fastest-growing economies in the European Union.

The capital city of Prague, home to nearly 1.2 million people, is the country’s economic engine. It’s also the headquarters for the highly-popular Lehigh in Prague program, a rigorous research and academic experience organized by the College of Business and Economics.

Now in its 14th year, the program serves as an insider’s guide to international business. The five-week program is run by Art King, professor of economics; Jim Hall, the Peter E. Bennett Chair in Business and Economics; and professor emeritus Dick Barsness.

“Prague is a great venue for students looking to get a firsthand appreciation of international business, especially because it will continue to play such a significant role in the future of the European Union,” says King.

He runs down a list of companies with whom students have interned during their stay: Allianz, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ regional headquarters, Deloitte, Ernst and Young, Komercni Banka, Ceska Sporitelna, HBO International, Vodafone, among others. “It really is an incredible opportunity to investigate and learn about the complex issues that are affecting the international business community,” he says.

The program consists of six credits of courses, including a research class, and a research-oriented practicum or internship. Over the course of their month-long stay, students work collaboratively with each other and their faculty advisors both in the classroom and in firm-based, business research assignments.

Amanda Hemmerly ‘09 agrees with King's assessment. During an internship with Allianz Insurance and Asset Management, Hemmerly worked in the human resources department and studied best practices in employee recruitment.

Her research on competition and consolidation in the European Union took her down a different path, however. While in Prague, Hemmerly monitored the airline industry and found that the EU, with its 27 nations, is moving towards airline industry consolidation and a single European airline market.

“My research showed the privatization issues have been driving competition in the EU airline industry since the EU was established. Having broken free of communist leadership not long ago, Prague was an exceptional place to witness such privatization issues first hand,” she says.

She got to see that transformation up close. “By living in Europe for a month I was able to experience first hand the competition between established air carriers and budget airlines,” she adds. “Simply traveling on weekends gave me the opportunity to see how budget airlines service the same airports as national carriers, yet offer lower rates.”

Hemmerly and her peers enjoyed the Prague experience. In the past, however, the program has also extended its locations to include Budapest, Hungary, and Zagreb, Croatia, two venues that offer different—and unique—business climates.

Despite the interesting venue, King suggests a certain mindset for those thinking about the upcoming 2008 trip. “The reason we go to Prague is because of the academic approach to investigating the European business culture, so we expect our students to want learn the professional—and personal—requirements to be effective in international business. And we only have one month to do that.”

--Tom Yencho

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2007

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