School of Business International Initiatives

Two members of the School of Business faculty recently travelled to northern Iraq to provide economic development assistance. From March 27, 2011 until April 3, 2011, Dr. Marko Grünhagen and Dr. Richard Flight of Eastern Illinois University’s School of Business delivered a week-long economic development workshop in Erbil, Iraq. Working in concert with the U.S. Department of State, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurdish Textile Museum, Grünhagen and Flight assisted the museum and six other local agencies in their business planning and development process.

Realizing the need for economic stability and cultural preservation, the Kurdistan Regional Government of northern Iraq seeks to promote local tourism and commerce through state and non-state funded businesses. The Kurdish Textile Museum, located in Erbil, Iraq, was established in December 2004 in the Erbil Citadel as a nongovernmental organization. The museum’s mission is focused on the cultural preservation of hand-woven textiles such clothing and ornamental rugs. Their current activities include the operation of the museum and preservation of historical artifacts as well as the teaching of traditional weaving as a craft-form to local women.

As experts in marketing, small business management, and entrepreneurship, Drs. Grünhagen and Flight worked with the Kurdish Textile Museum and other local business leaders. Their objective was to instruct local organizers on how to form effective business and marketing plan strategies. All of the individuals are then transferring the knowledge regionally to small business owners through additional workshops and training sessions. Using the Textile Museum as the case study the training included an intense 5-day workshop designed to teach techniques required to develop a successful marketing strategy and create a viable 3-5 year business plan for any nonprofit or for-profit business.

“Economic stability through local commerce and the maintenance of cultural heritage is important to all people” Flight asserts. “Furthermore, the desire to promote one’s history through art as the Kurdish Textile Museum does reflects the pride and progress the people of this troubled area of the world have made.” When asked of the impact this workshop is expected to have Grünhagen comments, “Our ability to impact these organizations will hopefully extend throughout the region. One business' success will benefit others and, in effect, spread to the whole region. Ideally, participants of this workshop will start an economic chain reaction which ultimately helps everyone. This is true economic development assistance.”  For a list of organizations that participate in the economic development project, click here.


 Dr. Richard Flight and Dr. Marko Grünhagen in Iraq



Flight Dr. Richard Flight currently serves as an Assistant Professor at Eastern Illinois University. He teaches courses in Marketing Management, Marketing Research and Marketing Strategy (MBA). He has previously designed and taught courses in Principles of Marketing, New Product Development, and Electronic Commerce.
Grunhagen Dr. Marko Grünhagen is the Lumpkin Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at Eastern Illinois University.  His research interest lies in the broader area of small business marketing and retailing in an international context. As an internationally recognized expert on franchising, his main interest over the past several years has focused on motivations and satisfaction of franchise owners, the effectiveness of franchise support services, and most recently, consumer perceptions of franchise offerings in the emerging markets of China and the Middle East.