Ahmet Kirca

Ahmet Kirca, director of IBC and MSU-CIBER and associate professor of international business and marketing

Since 1990, the International Business Center at MSU has been the only Center for International Business Education and Research in Michigan and one of only 15 such centers in the United States, as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

“This long tradition and commitment to international business means that the Broad College and IBC have been serving as the guiding force in this community for the past 30 years,” said Ahmet Kirca, director of IBC and MSU-CIBER and associate professor of international business and marketing.

Over the years, IBC has maintained its commitment to providing superior education, research and assistance to businesses, public policy makers, academics and students on international trade and global competitiveness issues. As the center celebrates this 30-year milestone, its reputation is extended as one of the oldest CIBERs in the country and one of the few to hold this prestigious title in the academic world of international business for so long.

This month’s episode of the Broad Matters podcast features Kirca alongside Irem Kiyak, associate director of IBC and MSU-CIBER, sharing the highlights of the center’s work, what it’s taken to become a global leader and how they’ve managed through COVID-19.

Serving as a resource for Michigan

The IBC has utilized its strengths to advance the state of Michigan, helping to expand and optimize Michigan’s economic growth. As part of the CIBER community, MSU’s IBC is renowned for its work in Michigan’s exports by administering the successful Michigan Export Growth Program, which has maximized global trade for more than 200 Michigan-based companies.

Jade Sims, assistant director for international trade programs of MSU-CIBER, said that in the past 10 years the center has grown substantially, especially in its outreach to the Michigan business community.

Jade Sims, assistant director for international trade programs of MSU-CIBER

“These initiatives have been our way of furthering the land-grant mission of MSU by assisting small businesses to be competitive in global markets,” she said.

IBC also serves as an essential hub for integrating services of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Michigan’s District Export Councils, and the international trade services of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Additionally, the center has been providing the State of Michigan an array of resources for companies going international, last year facilitating more than $300 million in additional exports by Michigan companies.

The center has earned recognition for its tremendous work in this area. Most recently, the IBC received the President’s “E” Award for Export Service in 2019 and signed its 10th yearlong contract as the MEDC Regional Export Network host, assisting Michigan businesses in their efforts to expand globally.

With a passion for helping students and businesspeople successfully connect to the world, Sims believes Michigan’s businesses and communities need to continue to embrace globalization to be successful and vibrant in our fast-paced world and in the years to come.

“Globalization is facing some negative rhetoric lately, and it’s true that we have seen negative consequences. However, with the access to information and connection that we now have, there’s a lot of opportunity for all of us to continue to learn,” she said. “Education is more important than ever.”

Advances on the academic side

The IBC also takes great pride in the work it contributes to advancing the academic world of international business. Notably, IBC holds a prominent role as the headquarters of the prestigious Academy of International Business, the leading association of scholars and business professionals in international business. With this role comes the responsibilities of managing AIB’s operations, three journals, an annual conference, 13 chapters and 3,500 members across 90 countries.

The center also serves as a leader for the United States in faculty development in international business education for community colleges. Training faculty in 44 states, IBC has benchmarked and had an impact on most of the nation’s 1,200 community colleges.

Irem Kiyak, associate director of IBC and MSU-CIBER

For students at MSU, IBC provides invaluable experiences. Take one of the center’s flagship projects, globalEDGE, for example. This was built by a small group of student assistants in the early 1990s and is still maintained by student editors, although it has grown more robust. Today, globalEDGE is an incredible resource used to reach out to more than 2 million global users in 196 countries and more than 60 territories, and it has been a Google top-ranked site for “international business resources.”

“Embracing our up-and-coming young talent and wisdom is more important than ever,” Kiyak said. She understands the importance of working with students as she got her start at IBC in 1995, when she was first hired as a graduate assistant.

“I believe investing in our youth in this way has elevated our center greatly and helped us stay relevant and innovative while providing the foundation of expertise to our future workforce to become competitive global business leaders,” she said.

IBC continues to provide research experience to more than 20 students per year; Kiyak emphasized the center’s ability to collaborate with “exceptionally curious and strong minds.”

What lies ahead

Part of celebrating this milestone also involves looking ahead at how the center will uphold its reputation as a leader and what else can be done. Kirca reflected that the IBC’s role as a CIBER is becoming more critical than ever as this anniversary is happening during an unprecedented global crisis, putting international business education at a crossroads.

“Globalization took a major hit in the past six months or so and it is in retreat,” he said. “Businesses globally have experienced dramatic challenges, and managers, policy makers and academics still do not know how this pandemic will affect global business activity in the future.

“It is our job to help our community at the local, state and national levels to understand the nature and impacts of these challenges, as well as how to address them in the short and long run. As one of the leaders in this area, IBC/MSU-CIBER is well positioned to do exactly that in the future.”

Kirca added that there is pressure for all academic institutions to successfully pivot and examine how educational programming will continue to change post-pandemic.

“We’ve excelled nationally for three full decades, so there is pressure — how can we continue to innovate and stay ahead of the curve?” he said. “The pressure to outperform the competition while remaining close friends with our collaborators and partners in this new landscape will be a delicate balancing act.”

There’s no question that MSU’s IBC has celebrated many inspiring accomplishments over the years while recognizing its responsibility as a leader in advancing international business. We hope to continuously support MSU-CIBER’s bright future of pursuit, improvement and innovation and look forward to celebrating upcoming accomplishments made in the next five years, 10 years — and perhaps another 30 years.

To hear more about IBC’s 30-year milestone, tune in to this month’s episode of the Broad Matters podcast, available now.