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Faculty Visit Builds the Capacity of Pakistan’s Business Schools

The University of Kentucky is working with business schools in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province, located in northwest Pakistan along the Afghanistan border, to enhance Pakistan’s academic and research capacity.

This partnership was established through the three-year “Partnership in Business Administration in the KP Pakistan" project, which began in October of 2012.

During the first year of the project, UK faculty, staff and administrators traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan to sign agreements and conduct an intensive three-day “tuning workshop” with a consortium of five business schools in the KP Province. This helped them align their curriculum and establish common programmatic outcomes.

To build upon this work and enhance the quality of research and pedagogy in the KP Province, seven faculty members from the consortium schools in Pakistan recently visited UK to take part in seminars and workshops, and to explore Kentucky’s economic and cultural landscape.

Endowed Professor of Management from the Gatton College of Business and Economics Joe Labianca led a doctoral level seminar in Organizational Theory. During the seminar Labianca helped the visiting faculty develop high-impact research proposals to be completed when they return to Pakistan.

“My job was to help them bring more international focus to their research, which will help them publish in more prestigious journals,” said Labianca. “For example, one of their projects was about the role of judicial efficiency in how a company decides to take on credit or hoard cash. The research was only about Pakistani companies; however, this is an issue that cuts across many nations. Now the project is about the rule of law and its relationship with capital structure, which engages a much wider group of academics.”

Labianca said that broadening Pakistan’s research capacity will help create a stable group of individuals who will be better able to identify innovative solutions to Pakistan’s complex problems.

The visiting faculty were also given full access to UK’s libraries and databases.

“If you are doing research on Pakistan, maybe you have access to 100 companies,” said Labianca. “Now all of a sudden you get access to databases on tens of thousands of companies globally, which means you have to be a lot better just to do the research. The visiting faculty really stepped up their game for this opportunity.”

The Center for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) led workshops on active learning, project-based learning and issues the group identified as their strengths and weaknesses. CELT also helped the visiting faculty design workshops for their colleagues in Pakistan.

CELT Director Kathi Kern described some of the unique teaching issues the visiting faculty face in the KP Province.

“The visiting faculty said they have great rapport with their students; however students in this region tend to stay within their own tribal group," Kern said. "If one student has a question on their exam, the whole tribal group confronts the professor together. It's not as individualistic as we are used to here in the U.S.”

Active learning was a new concept for the visiting faculty – much of their teaching is guided by exams that take place once or twice a semester.

“It seemed really risky to them to be more interactive with their students,” Kern said.

The visiting faculty will share what they have learned at UK by conducting similar workshops and seminars for their colleagues in the KP Province consortium schools.

UK faculty and staff will return to Islamabad, Pakistan in September to complete the tuning process and meet with the vice chancellors of the consortium schools in order to foster continued collaboration. The UK faculty and staff will also meet with multinational corporations in Islamabad, such as Alltech, to discuss how they could become involved with this project.

“We are looking forward to completing the tuning process in September and beginning work on introducing the competencies and learning outcomes into the curriculum,” said Nancy Johnson, associate professor in the Gatton College of Business and Economics. “We will begin selecting faculty for next summer, while Joe Labianca will continue working with the 2013 visiting faculty to complete their proposed research projects and prepare them for publication.”

The “Partnership in Business Administration in the KP Pakistan“ project is a $1.7 million grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of State. The Public Affairs Sections of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar are facilitating the program to support higher education in Pakistan and to increase collaborations between U.S. and Pakistani universities.

The mission of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad — and the consulate generals in Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi — is to promote bilateral ties between the United States and Pakistan and to foster economic and commercial relations. Embassy activities focus on strengthening democratic institutions; promoting nonproliferation and regional stability; fighting international terrorism; combating narcotics production and trafficking; and fostering expanded trade and investment.