Posts tagged MBA

Kazakhstan’s Acid Test on “Competition” of Universities

At the beginning of this past week, I had Kazakhstan’s Peace Corps Country Director and his wife (both have MBAs) come and talk about their U.S. business venture to my class of over 20 MA students.  In actual fact, I know my dear Kazakh students would much rather listen and interact with outside speakers than discuss their final paper and project required by me.  But the day of reckoning (rough draft deadline) is fast approaching.  

 The following are answers to the question that came up about “competition” during the Peace Corps director’s talk.  One vocal student expressed concern about the strategy our guest speaker and his partners used as being unethical when these typical Americans had tried to maintain profits after bringing their newly acquired business out of bankruptcy.  An outside, bigger competitor had tried to get into the same business in their region.  

This interaction with the speaker and my Kazakh students revealed just how prevalent Soviet trained teachers, who long preached against capitalism as the evils of all societies, still have contemporary students trapped into thinking that competition is a bad thing in business. When in truth, competition is ultimately good for the customer because it helps to reign prices in.  I think our university needs to work on the finer points (no BASIC points) of economics with their masters students especially.  I’ve never taken an economics course myself but I am married to an economist.  Being a liberal arts grad, I can appreciate that education and economics go hand in hand.  When a country is doing well, their educational systems improve.  When a country has no money for basic survival, their education languishes.  Let that not be so for Kazakhstan!!!

First, I’ll set up the context of how we got into this discussion and then how this might impact our western style university in Kazakhstan.  However, I don’t see anything coming close to what our university offers outside of Central Asia.  The following are answers from my masters students when queried about what the Peace Corps Country Director talked about with competition and his business.

How did John and his partners compete when a competitor came into their territory to sell the same product?  Was this a good thing they did, how would you do it differently?

S.Z. – They cut down their price, advertised more, tried to put their stations near those of competitor.  I studied economics and this is a classic way of getting the competitor out of business.  I would do it the same.

R.S. – It was a good strategy, I would also recommend to give some free services for customers, like free oil check.

L.S. – Personally I think that it is good, because this is the world of business and only the strongest companies survive.

K.L. – They reduced their prices on products (service).  That is not good from ethics way of mind but efficient.  I would offer some special offers like if you buy two, the third is free.

A.I. – I would do the same thing or would offer wide assortment and better services.

D.D. – I think its right because it’s a business, you must fight to your interests

Would it be good if another comparable institute like our university competed against it?

R.S. – Competition would be good because then there were a competition between institutions and the prices for education went lower, so more people could be educated in qualified places.

D.N. – Yes, there will be choice to which institution go.  Moreover, the competition between the institutions will start.  So, they come to cut the prices, and doing other things for attention of students.

A.A. – In my opinion, it would be VERY good. Our university has no competitors, that’s why it annually arises its costs.  But if there are more qualified institutions, people will have a choice and our education system will rise up.

A.B. – The tuition fee will be decreased.  Yes it will be a good, but there is risk that the quality could also decrease because our university will not afford to employ highly evaluated expensive professors.

A.V. – It will be good or excellent, because only in competitive situation firm or institution will increase quality of education, trying to get more students.

A.T.– Maybe, but I think it won’t be exactly the same, because our university has more experience and history.

A.D. – Of course yes, because people will have choice and for university students and other comparable institute student will be a big competition, and the level of education of population will be higher (more higher)

L.S. – I think that it would be good for the following reasons: 1) fees will be decreased 2) quality of education will increase.  I hope that soon there will be a good competitor to our university

K.L. – It will be good because of the competition between the universities for students

A.I.– competition is the base of good quality

D.D. – Decreasing tuition fees to make students stay in at our university, provide more scholarships, discounts for students

A.B. – That would be perfect, because when you have a really strong competitor, your effectiveness can be rised twice, it will help to rise the quality of education in our university also it will keep prices stable.

A.A. – We have to look from two sides 1) ordinary people; 2) administration for our university.  If will be more universities, there is good for people, they will have a choice where is better and cheaper.  We know competition is always good.  But for administration is not good because they will be mean competition.

A.B. – I think that our university has reputation as one of the western modeled institute with quality faculty and if new institution would be opened that shouldn’t be a problem for our university as it offers high quality education.

S.Z. – Yes, it would be, because in order to compete with the new institution, our university would have to decrease tuition fees, and hopefully to increase the quality of services.

A.T. – Yes, it’s be good because 1) competition which make the price cut and quality of education will be good 2) choice of universities and more programmes will be available to students.

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Last Day Flowers

last-day-bouquetMy wonderful MBA students gave me flowers last night and most all of us agreed that we want to keep the class going. So hard to believe we will no longer be meeting every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Some say they want to take another class from me next fall since I’m not teaching summer session. Both classes seemed to like each other as classmates and were constructive while being supportive in their comments when evaluating each others’ speeches. We had six nights in the whole semester that were devoted to informative and persuasive speeches. We were fortunate to have foreign guests come observe, comment and question on all these nights except for one of last night’s classes. Most of my students had ambivalent feelings about having outsiders come in to view and hear their speeches. For me, it helped because it is difficult to be objective as their teacher and getting outside opinions about the delivery of their speeches put things in perspective when I have to give the final grade. For the students, to prepare a speech for a real audience of native speakers of English puts an added pressure to perform well with passion, to get their point across, to speak to the back of the room with good eye contact and to handle questions that inevitably come up afterwards. For our guests, they were jazzed about hearing non-native speakers accomplish giving a speech with interesting content in this academic setting.

Yes indeed, I will miss these bright, young graduate students. Some will be walking across the stage on May 23rd for the commencement exercise. I will be so proud of them as I sit in the audience of the big auditorium. One gal last night, as she was helping me clean up the drinks and snacks that I had for our foreign guests because our classes met during the dinner hour, said that my class was her very last class. She seemed a bit melancholy about it. Another male student told me last night that he has been working hard on the planning committee for this great occasion of leaving our university with his newly minted masters degree. I wish them all well, I am thinking of the quote from Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”march-8-sprouts

I told my first class last night that the flowers they had given me on International Women’s Day almost two months ago had sprouted green leaves in their stalks. For some reason, these cut flowers were extra fresh and lasted well beyond two weeks. What was amazing was they started sprouting in the water. I have kept them to see if they will grow into a plant eventually. If so, there is life after being cut as fresh flowers. My students are my fresh cut, “Last Day Flowers!” Thank you dear students!!!

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Eight Students’ Samples of Their “Slice of Life”

The following excerpts are from a 25 minute timed writing of my masters level students the first time we met on Monday evening. (I had them sign a consent form so I could share a “slice of life” with my faithful readers.) I asked no leading questions, just simply asked them to write about themselves and I was very pleased with the results.

I was also very happy yesterday to get a text message from a former student of mine whom I had tutored for several weeks for the iBT version of the TOEFL exam.  Andriy was my “dream student” who flew to Almaty from Aktobe just to brush up on his speaking skills, as well as writing.  This was his text message to me, it MADE MY DAY!!!


“Hi there, how r u? I just got my results! Guess what, I got 93! My hands were shaking when I saw that I could get the score! Now, I hope u of c [University of Calgary] will accept them! Thanks!”


Dinara – “…Though I am valued employee at my work (yet, there is no irreplaceable person) I feel an urge to apply what I’ve learnt so far in practice.  Consequently, I decided to apply for a position in Big 4.  I know that when I do want to achieve the goal and I am keen on subject matter, I will shift every effort to become maybe not the best one, but at least to be among the best…reading is another hobby of mine.  Honestly speaking, I used to spend hours and hours reading the book, I cannot tear myself from the book unless I read it right till the end.”


Irina – “In 2006, I decided to get MBA education in________.  I really thought it produced excellent specialists.  But I don’t want to write bad about all the _______students…just to say that many of graduates are “empty inside,” in particular bachelors (just “coolness).


Elvira – “My friends say that I am a good friend.  I build any relationships honestly.  I’m always ready to help. Even my name means “person who protects everyone and takes care”  Sometimes it is not good for me because all my spare time I can spend to someone else.  I have big problems with time management and I can’t make any priorities. 


Maya –I did what thousands of other teenagers did at the early nineties when Soviet Union was crushing and the market economy was coming to change the communism, I entered the Technology University, on economy faculty.  Many teenagers at that time wanted to be a businessman or businesswoman. At 1999, I graduated the university, but I did not feel confident about my knowledge obtained there, because the level of education was very low there. 


Yulia – I have a brother, his name is Igor and he is younger than me on 8 years.  He is a hockey player.  Actually, it was the dream of my father to play hockey but in those Soviet time unfortunately it was impossible to play hockey if you are not Russian (because Russian men are strong, tall and brave.) I’m not sure that it was true, maybe it was the joke of my father but I believed him. 


Gulnar – “I dream to visit Japan, Italy and Brasilian.  I think their cultures are colorful and interesting.  I admire women, those who can combine family duties and good career.  I really want that Hillary Clinton would become the first women-president in USA, I believe that she is smart, strong and kind.


N.T. – “My favorite dream is “become great ruler which lead to Kazakhstani people to prosperity and sustainable development.”  I hope that God will bless Kazakhstan and me.  Also, I think that every person should be patriot, in family and country.  Also, I think and hope, and believe every one in this life have mission.  Who knows, maybe I have also great mission because it’s hard and stupid to just live.”


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