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UMKC’s Arvin Gottlieb/Missouri Chair of Strategic Management Honored in Armenia

UMKC’s Arvin Gottlieb/Missouri Chair of Strategic Management Honored in Armenia

 

Dr. Marilyn Taylor, Gottlieb/Missouri Professor of Strategic Management was honored earlier this month in Armenia as a Friend of Armenia for her long-term leadership and mentor roles in lives of her many students.  Host Dr. Tatoul Manasserian, former member of the Armenian Parliament, and Dr. Xiaohua Yang of University of San Francisco co-chaired a conference in Yerevan, Armenia which focused on China’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multiple countries.  The U.S. delegation included Taylor’s former doctoral students Dr. Chi Anyansi Archibong of North Carolina A&T State University, Dr. George Puia of Michigan State University, and Dr. Yang.  Also part of the U.S. delegation was Taylor’s close long-term colleague, Dr. Clyde Stoltenberg, of Wichita State University as well as Dr. Lawrence Mensah Akwetey of Great Britain’s London School of Commerce. The delegates were invitees of the government through the Center for Education, Policy Research, and Economic Analysis which Dr. Manasserian, well-known economic advisor to Armenia’s leadership, founded and heads.

 

The delegation made special presentations regarding Chinese outbound FDI and their expertise and suggestions to the gathered audience.  Said Taylor “We had a lively audience of government officials, business leaders, and university faculty and administration.”  Questions focused on China’s role in the world, especially in Armenia, Africa, and the Caucasus region of which Armenia is an integral part.   Yang, Taylor, and Stoltenberg have worked for some time on China’s corporate social responsibility issues and how they affect China’s outbound foreign direct investment policies and actions.  Anyansi-Archibong, who is known for her work in Africa, especially her home country of Nigeria, co-authored a paper with another of Taylor’s mentorees, Dr. Theresa Coates of Limestone College (SC).  Puia and his co-author Natalie Pretzer-Lin of National Chengchi University focused on lifestyle issues and how they affect FDI location choices.  Akwetey’s marketing expertise came to play in his focus on Sino-Africa trade and investment relationships.

 

The special issue associated from the special conference honored Taylor as “life-long educator mentor and friend” and noted her role as “…an international educator, academic leader, and innovator… in management education…”  Taylor is the Arvin Gottlieb/Missouri Chair of Strategic Management at UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management and has held multiple leadership roles in the School and University in the two decades since her initial appointment.  Most recently she served as Chair of the Management Department for the School.  Taylor is known for her leadership in the early development of the Executive MBA and the campus-wide Students in the City program, as well as other initiatives.  She has been recognized at the local, regional, and national levels for her research, teaching, and service.

 

Said Taylor about the honor conferred in Armenia,

 

It has been in the planning situation for nearly two years.  I knew nothing and was surprised to be asked to sit on the platform along with Armenia’s Vice-Speaker of National Assembly of Armenia, Ms. Hermine Naghdalyan.  Unfortunately, Prime Minister Mr. Tigran Sargsyan had a last minute conflict arise and he was not able to join us as scheduled.  But Narek Galstyan, Prime Minister’s assistant, was able to take time to greet us and be present for the discussions.  However, the greatest surprise was when the U.S. delegates and the Center presented me with the conference special issue dedicated in my honor.

 

I am very proud of my various doctoral students who have developed into strong leaders in their respective institutions.  As the dedication explained, each studied with me in a different time period, but they embody my continuing dedication to education and its force for change in a society, in the students with whom we work, and with the companies with which we interact.  That this set of former students, colleagues, and friends would come the long distance from the U.S. and other parts of the world to join in this special conference and event in my honor was, needless to say, a life-time experience.

 

The U.S. delegation later joined in one of three major “town hall” meetings held in various locations throughout Armenia country to review the country’s proposed three-year budget.  Taylor was impressed with the number of female elected officials who were represented in the meeting.  The U.S. delegation had a special briefing from Varhram Avanesyan,  Armenia’s Minister for Economy. Said Taylor, “It is clear that the current situation in Armenia is optimistic on many fronts.  A number of issues regarding the country’s stability, if not resolved, have certainly been ameliorated.  Our interaction with Armenia’s World Bank country manager Jean-Michel Happi indicated that Armenia has come a long way indeed.”

 

The U.S. delegates were briefed throughout their week’s visit on various aspects of Armenia’s current economic situation, but also on its history and culture.  Taylor commented,

 

Few of us in the U.S. realize that Armenia traces its lineage through Haik, a great grandson of Noah.  The Armenia people have had a presence in the region as a nation and country entity for over 4000 years —- nearly as long as the Chinese!!  The country has undergone significant pressure from many invasions through the millennia.  The most recent difficulties emanate from the breakup of the Soviet Union and being set loose so to speak from the access to previous markets, the closing of the border with Turkey in the aftermath of the Azerbaijan  conflict, and the devastating 1988  earthquake.  Armenia has had a long road to recover from the loss of its manufacturing capacity which focused primarily on high quality machinery.  Today the country relies heavily on export of agricultural exports especially its wonderful fruits, electric power, and tourism.  The latter is small but growing.  The recovery from the earthquake is largely complete, but the closed borders for this land-locked country, especially the border with Turkey, remain a significant issue.

 

Taylor was also impressed with Armenia’s emphasis on its spiritual heritage.  She commented,

 

Many religions are represented in the Armenian population.  However, the country is predominately Christian associated with the Apostolic Church.  Armenians are careful to point out that their country accepted Christianity as its official religion as early as 301, fully a decade before Emperor Constantine of the Roman Emperor declared Christianity as the official religion.  Because of underlying common faith backgrounds among the delegates and the country’s leaders we stood in Geghard, a monastery built in 1215 and heard a group of five singing Armenian hymns.  We ourselves were in another nearly 1000-year-old church and sang a capella “Amazing Grace” and other selections of old Christian hymns…It was a wonderful experience to join with the group who come from four continents and seven countries in this expression of common faith.”

 

Taylor observed that emotionally Armenia remains closely attached to Mt. Ararat which lies just inside Turkey’s modern borders that were established by the Allies at the end of WWII.  Mt. Ararat is closely connected with the biblical story of Noah and thus the history of the Armenia nation.  It is believed to be the final resting place for the famous ark, a resting place possible because the flood waters were so significant.  At the time of the Flood evidence indicates that Mt. Ararat was not nearly as high as its current nearly 17,000 feet.  The increase in height is a result of the collision of the teutonic plates that underlie the region.  The plate movement remains active and has resulted in multiple earthquakes including the 1988  earthquake from which Armenia focused for many years on recovery.  Said Taylor,

 

I am significantly impressed with the resilience of the Armenian nation in the wake of many setbacks including well-known persecutions over its history, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the controversy over Azerbaijan  and the closed border with Turkey, the 1988 earthquake damage, and continuing economic and political concerns.  Of course, the help from the Armenia diaspora makes a significant difference.  But without the resilience of core of those who remain in the home country, the investment from Armenians who play significant roles in the rest of the world and, of course significantly in the U.S., that investment would be a moot issue.

 

Post-conference, initiator of the event Dr. Xiaohua Yang of San Francisco University said,

 

I wish to thank all of you for making special effort to contribute to this special journal issue and participating in this special conference with full energy and passion.   Dedicating this special issue to Marilyn, our life-long educator, mentor, and friend in this way brings meaning not only to what Marilyn has done and is still doing all her life, but also to each of us, who has dedicated our life to this profession, to educate next generation and make this world a better place than yesterday.   This truly is one of best team projects I have ever been involved.   Believe me, this is not an ordinary project.   Ever since George, Tatoul, Lawrence and I met in UAE in March 2012 and decided to conduct a special issue conference and publish a special issue in honor of Marilyn, the whole project has given me the most positive energy and inspiration I remember in recent years.  Just working with people I deeply respect, admire, and care gives me sheer energy, joy, and inspiration.

 

Yang pointed out that the conference and special issue are a beginning.  An edited book combining updated articles from the special issue and other related papers is planned.  There is also the possibility of a special visit for the group to Africa in the near future.  The expectation is to working with the World Bank and the Armenian communities in the US to develop co-funded projects.

 

 

Taylor’s contributions on these and many other fronts are unequivocal over her four-decade career in the academic world.  What drives her?  The special dedication concluded, “Her strong belief that education has the power to make the world a better place is evident in her work with students and faculty from all over the world.”

Taylor’s continuing dedication to global education and peace could lead to an impetus for the group to seek solution for helping resolve the border issues between Armenia and Turkey.  If that happens, it will credit to her belief—Education can change the world.

 

 

 

 

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