Six seniors took their final class as Haslam College of Business students in Dublin, Ireland, this summer as part of a study abroad program focusing on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The class was taught by associate professor of management Russell Crook, who chose Ireland for its unique standing in the European Union.
“Ireland is the only English speaking country on the Euro,” Crook said. “Given this, lots of firms from within the EU take their first international step into Ireland because it is very similar to the United States. They take this knowledge, and then try to move to the U.S.”
Students followed the same business strategy with a project called “Coming Soon to Knoxville.” They used frameworks learned in class to identify international franchises that might be profitable in the Knoxville market, studying the specific industry, franchisor’s track record, start-up fees and ongoing royalties.
Valencia Jennings, a human resource major, found that studying the Irish business environment was actually a self-reflective exercise. “I learned many things about myself that I don’t believe I would have discovered had I taken this class back in Knoxville,” she said, noting that Irish professionals are more conservative in their dress, but more liberal in their timeframes and demeanor.
Students visited Galway, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, a social media monitoring firm called Olytico, Kendlebell and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), which attracts FDI to Ireland.
“The visit to the IDA really helped the students understand what government institutions can do to create a favorable environment for FDI,” Crook said. Ireland’s success in attracting FDI investment from more than 1,000 companies made the IDA visit an educational highlight of the trip.
Ken Finnegan of the IDA explained to Haslam students that Ireland’s appeal goes beyond a low corporate tax rate and stable economic environment, however. “I provided them with Ireland’s unique selling points and value proposition from an investment perspective but also put some of our other great national resources in there too — the beautiful scenery and fun activities here,” he said.