Kelley School receives State Department grant for outreach in North Macedonia

Through a $249,000 grant from the U.S. State Department, faculty at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business will extend the teaching and outreach capabilities of the oldest and largest public university in the Republic of North Macedonia, in south-central Europe.

This project continues the university and the school's legacy of involvement in Eastern Europe, going back to the efforts of late IU President and Chancellor Herman B Wells in the 1950s. The business school played a key role in establishing the European Productivity Agency, the first of many institution-building programs that would characterize Kelley's activities for decades. IU was an early center of study of Russia and Eastern Europe after World War II.

Two management professors at Kelley will work over the next two years with faculty at Saints Cyril and Methodius University (also known as UKIM- Skopje) based in the nation's capital, Skopje, to further develop graduate business education. Kelley's Institute for International Business is administering the grant. The U.S. Embassy in Skopje is providing funds for the project.

"There's lots of opportunities for collaborative capacity building, not to re-create an American model of education but to work together to create a model that works best in their environment that is based on the learnings and successes that we've had," said LaVonn Schlegel, the institute's executive director. "This project will help this university establish itself as a regional leader in top-quality business education in a region that is poised to continue to pursue and achieve economic success over the next decade."

Faculty involved in the project are Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship and the Eveleigh Professor of Business Leadership, and Ernest O'Boyle, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship and the Dale M. Coleman Chair in Management. Because of pandemic travel restrictions, faculty exchanges between the two institutions will be limited to virtual interactions.

"This project will facilitate meaningful collaboration between the two universities and create an opportunity for UKIM to expand business education in the region," the embassy said in a statement. "We look forward to the outcomes of the partnership with the creation of UKIM's MBA in strategic human resource management and enhancing the teaching skills of the UKIM faculty."

The economics program at Saints Cyril and Methodius University traditionally has focused its attention locally, on serving the capital and the country. Through this project, it hopes to expand its influence to include the broader region encompassing Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, as well as foster economic growth in North Macedonia. This includes examining curricula and methodology for online and classroom learning.

"This partnership with Indiana University shall open a new chapter in our operation as a leading higher education institution recognized in the country and abroad by opening new horizons in a global framework," said Predrag Trpeski, professor and dean of the faculty of economics at UKIM-Skopje. "The new MBA studies in strategic human resource management shall represent a true added value to our faculty because of its uniqueness regarding the engaged parties, its strong international feature, and the immense experience that shall be united so that with joint efforts, both the faculty of economics at UKIM-Skopje and Indiana University shall create a prosperous future for all the students eager to gain knowledge valid and applicable all over the globe."

An independent nation since 1991, North Macedonia generally remained at peace during the Yugoslav conflicts during the 1990s, but it is a landlocked country. A recent European Union report noted that the country has done a "good level of preparation in developing a functioning market economy" but needs to do more "to cope with competitive pressures and market forces within the EU."