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By the end of next summer, Harvard plans to open an "outpost" in Buenos Aires, Argentina. With a small staff and a few workstations, this office will function as a home away from Cambridge for visiting Harvard faculty.
The Buenos Aires outpost will be the third such center opened since 1997, joining research stations in Hong Kong and Silicon Valley, Calif. While open to staff from all Harvard schools, it will be primarily used by Harvard Business School (HBS).
Increasing Harvard's international presence has long been a priority of President Neil L. Rudenstine, and this new outpost is touted as a way to put down permanent roots in a growing economic market.
As the outpost grows, Rudenstine says, Harvard may offer continuing education courses and "short-term" classes through the outpost.
HBS hopes to announce a third international outpost in Europe by the middle of next year, according to Dean of the Business School Kim B. Clark.
"I think that Latin America has a fascinating set of issues and challenges," Clark says.
South America, Clark says, is becoming an integral part of the international business world, and the chance to study emerging Latin American markets from within is essential for a large university like Harvard.
"There was a sense in the Business School that Harvard's contacts in the region were extensive and could be built on," says Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs John H. Coatsworth. Coatsworth is also director of the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.
The new research office will cover the 12 countries of South America and seven countries of Central America.
A small faculty task force started looking into possibilities in Latin America last spring after Clark made a personal visit to the region to meet with alumni and business leaders. HBS Senior Associate Dean Steven C. Wheelwright is the chair of the committee.
This task force will now help plan the center, along with an advisory group of Latin American alumni and donors convened by HBS.
Rudenstine also visited Argentina and Brazil this summer to meet with business leaders.
Rudenstine says that, though the outpost may offer some classes, there's no chance it will ever become a degree-granting extension of Harvard's campus.
"We are not aiming to set up campuses," he said.
The outpost, as currently set up, will be of the most use to the Business School for case study research, Clark and Rudenstine say.
"At present this is a Business School research center. If there are [other] schools that are interested...in this venture, then that's something that we will talk to other schools about," Clark says.
But currently finding an executive director for the outpost is at the top of the agenda. "That's the most critical decision," Clark says. "We've got a search going on."
The director will have to know the region well and be familiar with the languages of the region--Spanish and Portuguese--according to Clark. Clark and his faculty advisors will make the final decision. They hope to find someone by the end of the fall, he adds.
The plan is to have an address and a director by spring for a preliminary opening of the outpost. The final opening will probably be the end of next summer, Clark says.
Following the Dream
When Rudenstine first outlined his international agenda around the start of the capital campaign five years ago, creating this kind of outposts around the world featured prominently.
About the same time, the Business School launched its Global Initiative to improve its ability to research and teach about economies around the world.
One of the most important aspects of the Global Initiatives is the development of a physical base in important regions around the world through the outposts.
"The idea behind all of these efforts is to increase and improve and deepen the international capability in the school," Clark says.
The aim for the Business School is to start with outposts in key areas-Asia, Latin America, Europe-and grow from there.
We "focused on areas of the world where we needed to build relationships and build a presence," Clark says.
The Hong Kong outpost officially opened in January 1999 and has a staff of about five. About 25 to 30 professors are expected to make use of it each year, staff said last year.
Harvard's first outpost was established in 1997 in Silicon Valley's Menlo Park, Calif. Used exclusively by the business school, the outpost is currently staffed with a researcher and an executive director.
Now, it's time to tackle Europe. Clark says he has been mulling over the prospects for an outpost in Europe for a couple of years. He does not yet now where it would be located.
But he hopes to be able to announce concrete plans for the outpost by the Business School's Global Alumni Conference in Berlin in June 2000.
"That's been our focal point by the time we go to that conference we hope to have our plans for Europe nailed down so we can announce it out that conference," Clark says.
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