Among Asia’s urban environments, the tiny city-state of Singapore is a unique blend of West and East—a cosmopolitan nation bound by tradition and culture.
But it’s the government’s sphere of influence that makes Singapore a paradox. A relative newcomer among the world’s important business and financial hubs, Singapore's society is recognized as one of the most efficient, safe and least-corrupt on the planet. It’s one of the few successful countries to enjoy a high level of government involvement in the day-to-day affairs of such sectors as commerce, media and transportation.
Students and faculty from Business Management Policies, a 300-level course offered by the department of management in the College of Business and Economics, spent a week in Singapore earlier this month and saw for themselves the diversity of this 45-year old island nation, nestled at the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. Their “Lehigh on Location” travel experiences are documented on Lehigh’s YouTube site and in an interactive geomap on Google.
The students were impressed by Singapore’s entrepreneurial spirit and competitive drive, says management major Julie Kuhns ’10. They developed an appreciation for a country that, despite a population of only 5 million, could shape global business for years to come.
“I was intrigued by the differences in management styles, predictions about the future of global business, and the way organizations were run,” said Kuhns, who joined seven of her classmates on the trip.
“Values such as family, relationships and work-life balance were stressed in Singapore. These sometimes get lost in American business culture to more ‘important’ measures such as profitability, market share and dominance,” she added.
Axelrod Fellow Jill Brown, an assistant professor of management, and Andrew Ward, associate professor of management, coordinated the trip, which was financially supported by the Office of International Affairs.
While in Singapore, the students learned more about topics they had been covering in Business Management Policies, such as global expansion, the bargaining power of buyers, macroeconomics, and the world’s growth industries.
“We had a great group of kids who really made the most of their experience on this trip,” says Brown, who set up meetings with big-name entrepreneurs and company executives from the petrochemicals, communications, urban development and food industries.
The Lehigh students also spent time with their counterparts at Singapore Management University, one of Asia’s leading business schools, which, since it was founded in 2000, has earned international accolades for its focus on innovation and creativity.
“The students really did their homework,” said Brown. “They had thoughtful conversations with some of Singapore’s leading minds, who came away very impressed with our students.”