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Three UTPA faculty members initiate new collaborative; welcomed worldwide fellows Aug. 11-13
Posted: 08/17/2009
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One day in the future, leaders and policy-makers across the globe may look to the ideas and knowledge generated by a collaborative of academic fellows initiated this summer at The University of Texas-Pan American to help bring about new solutions to world issues and challenges.

The collaborative, tentatively titled the Collaborative for Poststructural Studies in Culture, Business and Marketing, was co-founded by three UTPA faculty members - Dr. A. Fuat Firat, professor of marketing and collaborative director, and Dr. Mohammadali Zolfagharian, assistant professor of marketing, both from the College of Business Administration; and Dr. Cory Wimberly, assistant professor of philosophy, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The inaugural gathering of the collaborative was held Aug. 11-13 at the UTPA campus and various Rio Grande Valley locations.

Pictured at the inaugural meeting of the Collaborative for Poststructural Studies in Culture, Business and Marketing founded at UTPA are left to right Dr. A. Fuat Firat, UTPA professor of marketing and collaborative director; Dr. Salvador Treviño, professor of marketing and dean of the College of Business, Economics and Law, Monterrey Tech, Mexico; Dr. Nikhilesh Dholakia, professor of marketing, E-Commerce, and international business, University of Rhode Island; Dr. Mohammadali Zolfagharian, UTPA assistant professor of marketing; Dr. Amy Wendling, assistant professor of philosophy, Creighton University; Dr. Teofilo Ozuna, dean, UTPA College of Business Administration; Dr. Paul Sale, UTPA provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. Jorge Rocha, professor of business anthropology, Monterrey Tech, Mexico; Dr. Romain Laufer, professor of marketing , HEC, France; Dr. Alladi Venkatesh, professor of management and computer science, University of California-Irvine; and Dr. Cory Wimberly, UTPA assistant professor of philosophy.
"The hope is that the collaborative will become similar to what is known generally as a think tank," Firat said. "One vision for the collaborative is to begin to develop a completely new understanding of what business and marketing is all about in order to be ready for a world that we feel is in major transformation at this point in time. The collaborative would produce knowledge and ideas that will make us ready for 15 years from now. It is a very forward-looking initiative."

The initial group of fellows attending from other universities included Dr. Nikhilesh Dholakia, professor of marketing, E-commerce and international business, University of Rhode Island; Dr. Romain Laufer, professor of marketing, HEC (Hautes Études Commerciales), France; Dr. Salvador Treviño, professor of marketing and dean of the College of Business, Economics and Law, Monterrey Tech, Mexico; Dr. Jorge Rocha, professor of business anthropology, Monterrey Tech, Mexico; Dr. Alladi Venkatesh, professor of management and computer science, University of California- Irvine; and Dr. Amy Wendling, assistant professor of philosophy, Creighton University.

"These are people who can think outside the box and who will be able to generate new ideas," said Firat, an expert on cultural marketing, who sees the collaborative as bridging the application of theory in conducting and analyzing business with the society-driven realities of the market.

During the inaugural meeting, fellows were able to network and learn more about each other's research and areas of interest. Discussions were also held regarding the collaborative's vision and the research and programs to be developed. A number of UTPA doctoral students were also able to meet with the visiting fellows. Firat said in the future the collaborative will add a doctoral seminar and the presentations by fellows and students would be compiled for publication. Long-term goals include hosting an annual conference, creating graduate and undergraduate coursework and producing a scholarly journal.

Initial funding for the collaborative was provided by the Division of Academic Affairs and the College of Business Administration. Firat said the collaborative hopes to establish future funding through grants and business partnerships to help support its administration, programs and research as well as advance further opportunities for post doctoral and other students to work with the collaborative.

According to Firat, there are 65 students currently in UTPA's business doctoral program with the potential of a number of them landing in some of the nation's top 40 universities. He noted one UTPA doctoral student's research was published this past fall in one of the top three academic journals worldwide in his field.

"We want to be a player in academia. Through this collaborative, we hope to develop new ideas, new perspectives and new ways of looking at the world. We need to seek cultural perspectives and understanding. We want to put the collaborative into the consciousness of the world and hopefully begin to build something where 30 or 40 years from now people will say here is where it started. We are very ambitious," Firat said.

For more information, contact Firat at 956/381-3351 or via e-mail at firatf@utpa.edu.