International Business research export to Shanghai

Shanghai University has been looking for partners in Europe, and for several reasons they chose the IBE group: First of all the group has published papers they find interesting; but it did also build relations to Shanghai University through a former Assistant Professor, Xiaotian Zhang, now Vice Dean of Gobal Affairs at Shanghai University.

The IBE group has specialized in International Entrepreneurship as a subsection of International Business over decades, and this field is of particular interest to the Chinese, because there are many start-ups in China, and they grow quickly to a position where they are forced to enter global competition. This challenge is precisely what the IBE group has studied for several years.

Demand for IMM DNA

Shanghai University is nicely ranked at a national scale – but they aspire to a stronger global reputation – and the IBE group will have a role in faciliting these goals, a.o. by contributing to innovate their Ph.D. education. The Chinese are highly interested in more creative and cross-disciplinary approaches to the understanding of Internatinal Business. They have strong insights of the basics, but are not used to mix disciplines the way it has been practised for decades at the Department of Marketing & Management.


”The Chinese work with the ’Canon of Classics’ of our field, while we mix the elementary textbook with new approaches. That’s what we are really good at - and that’s what they have discovered at the Shanghai University.”, says Head of Research Unit, Associate Professor Martin Hannibal, who has just returned from China. ”On the other hand they are very clever in the technical field – maybe better than we are. They produce the most amazing data sets – and it’s fantastic what they can achieve with a computer. Here we can definitely learn a lot. But they are not trained in creative thinking. So we complement each other perfectly and if we succeed in leveraging our different qualities the co-operation will have a huge impact on our research too.”

The Department of Marketing & Management is an ’exotic’ and very attractive unit to the Chinese researchers because of the free and open debate – and they are not only interested in our professional approach but also in our culture. “We should take very good care of that” Martin Hannibal continues: ”It seems to be what other nations find very interesting about us!”

There are money in it – if you understand what they are saying

The economy of the project is quite promising. The Chinese are ambitious and ready to invest what it takes. Up to now the concept is that the IBE researchers organize a series of Ph.D. workshops, tuition for selected Ph.D. students and organize a Summer School. ”But you should not count your chickens before they are hatched”, says Head of Research Unit, Martin Hannibal: ”It’s a very intricate thing to do business with the Chinese. You often have to guess what they want, and when they want it. Suddenly they announce that a delegation will arrive in a few days – and then they expect the presentation of a complete programme. It can be a little arduous, honestly. But here our Chinese Assistant Professor, Yi Wang, is incredibly helpful. He has a Ph.D from Europe and is familiar with both cultures. Yi helps us understanding the Chinese mindset – and he helps the Chinese to understand what we say – quite litterary, because many of them still speak English quite poorly although they hold an academic degree.


A Chinese delegation visited the IBE group at the end of September, and a week later Head of Research Unit, Martin Hannibal and Associate Professor Maria Elo visited Shanghai University to discuss future cooperation plans.


Read about the projects with Shanghai University here

Associate Professor Maria Elo is already affiliated to Shanghai University, and she visited the Chinese university together with Head of Research Unit, Associate Professor Martin Hannibal in October.


Maria Elo:


Martin Hannibal: