The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Professors return from Iraq

Two Eastern professors returned from a week in Erbil, Iraq, where they experienced a thriving culture and presented a five-day workshop about economic development and business planning.

Richard Flight, an assistant professor of marketing, and Marko Grunhagen, a distinguished professor of entrepreneurship, left March 26 and returned from their trip April 3.

“When we left, we really didn’t know what to expect in a lot of areas and in terms of the people that we would meet and the environment we would be going into,” Flight said. “I was startled to see exactly how much growth was going on with new construction everywhere and Erbil is a vibrant and sophisticated city just exploding with activity.”

The main organization Grunhagen and Flight were assisting was the Kurdish Textile Museum located near the citadel in Erbil.

“The museum is located at the old elevated side of Erbil and the amazing part is that the citadel goes back more than 6,500 years,” Grunhagen said. “This is the oldest and most continuously inhabited city in the world and it is one of the only functioning organizations surrounded by about 350 buildings that are in ruins.”

Grunhagen said he thought it was a very rewarding trip and they accomplished what they wanted to do with the workshop.

“We were on a task, but at the same time, we did this because we were curious and we wanted to know what it was like, and to help people living there,” Grunhagen said. “This is a part of the world that has suffered and they are bringing in experts from all over the world.”

Grunhagen said he and Flight encountered archeologists from Italy and Germany who were restoring books and sculptures.

“This particular area we went to is unique in that it is safe, and it is central to many other areas so it is not so surprising that we were at the crossroads of this intellectual curiosity that bonded us,” Flight said.

He said there were five essential aspects they covered in the workshop that served as building blocks for a long-term business plan.

“First we wanted to evaluate the organization’s strengths and weaknesses and we wanted the workshop participants to go through the process of being critical about the organization,” Flight said. “We had them focus on the skills and the core competencies the organization had so they could build a program on those core competencies.”

The second aspect of the workshop was to help the participants understand the market that they serve and evaluate who their customers are.

Grunhagen said the participants had never surveyed customers so they sent them out to collect survey data so they could get feedback from customers.

“The third key element of this workshop dealt with identifying competitors to evaluate who is out there, which led us to the fourth part of the workshop that really dealt with evaluating services and products that are offered,” Flight said.

Flight said the fifth main aspect of the workshop consisted of implementation, operation and budgeting aspects such as evaluating revenue and cost aspects of business operations.

Grunhagen said they gave the participants a timeline to follow their progress within six months to five years.

“We experienced true economic development because it is like throwing a rock into the pond and we just hope the ripple effects continue throughout the region and that the workshop participants take what we showed them to help themselves,” Grunhagen said.

Rachel Rodgers can be reached at 581-2812 or rjrodge[email protected]

Professors return from Iraq

Professors return from Iraq

Richard Flight, assistant professor of marketing, and Marko Grunhagen, distinguished professor of entrepreneurship, stand on the Citadel in Erbil, Iraq. Flight and Grunhagen visited the country March 26 through April 3 to present a workshop.(Submitted ph


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