‘The Plan is Ambitious, but Quite Realistic’
Recently Professor Wesley Johnston from Georgia State University (USA) read a course of lectures on marketing strategies to students of the HSE Faculty of Management. One of the HSE organizers of this project was Olga Tretyak, Head of the HSE Department of Strategic Marketing. What do they think about interuniversity partnership, joint research projects and the future of this cooperation?
— In November you took part in an international conference on the contemporary problems of management which was held at the HSE. Please tell us more about the programme and presentation topics at this forum.
O. Tretyak: I think that this year’s conference was successful primarily because we managed to create interdisciplinary sections and unite reports from different areas relating to similar problems of contemporary management. Moreover, we outlined the themes for some new joint research with our international colleagues and discussed the most promising ideas and plans, including those of my colleague Professor Wesley Johnston. We managed to not only invite him to the conference, but to organize a two-week course of his lectures funded by an HSE grant.
W. Johnston: For many years I have been conducting research related to contemporary marketing practices in a number of countries, such as the USA, China, Argentina and New Zealand. That’s why my report perfectly fitted with the topics of the HSE international conference. I am happy that my presentation provoked some interest and discussion among the conference participants, not only about transactional relations between companies and consumers, but also about behavioural trends of the contemporary consumer. This is a complicated, but highly important, field of marketing research. To be successful in their businesses, companies have to pay more attention to the needs of the consumer and develop their business plans and development programmes to take into account constantly changing market demands.
My speech at the conference was about two new trends in world marketing: the development of long-term relations with the consumer and the broadening use of electronic means of communication for successful sales. Until recently, the basis of most companies’ strategies was the search for new consumers and increasing sales by attracting new consumers. But over the last few years, companies are showing their desire to make the relations of ‘seller-buyer’ deeper and to develop those relations on a stable and long-term basis. Company managers are increasingly trying to study the demands and needs of their clients, to attract regular customers with various programmes of lotteries, gifts and discounts, conducting customer surveys on their websites and coordinating the activity of sales depending on the results of their own research.
— What was the programme of your visit to the HSE?
W. Johnston: I read five lectures to master’s students on strategic marketing, including such topics as Organizational buying behavior, Sales management, Customer relationship management, Key account management and Strategic management mechanism. I believe these lectures were also attended by postgraduate students of the HSE Faculty of Management. In addition to this, I participated in the session of the HSE International Expert Council, chaired by Dean Nikolay Filinov, where an advanced plan for the development of the faculty was discussed, and also participated in a special seminar on modern methods of intercompany interaction research, organized by the HSE Laboratory of Network Organizational Forms.
O. Tretyak: We invited not only staff members to the laboratory meeting , but also undergraduate and postgraduate students involved in network forms of business organization studies. We created a working plan, which also involves Wesley Johnston, and agreed to jointly present some materials at international conferences, and to develop our joint work with young Russian and U.S. researchers. We are also considering organizing cooperation between postgraduate students from both countries as a future direction of development. This will involve our young colleagues jointly developing research problems, suggesting new ideas and hypotheses, discussing and uniting their effort in the development of relevant topics. In other words, this will be joint work by Russian and American postgraduate students under our academic supervision. Moreover, we are planning a special edition of the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing,edited by Prof. Johnson, with some publications by our young colleagues.
Speaking about the cooperation in teaching, we worked with Professor Johnston to coordinate the topics of his lectures at the HSE. Since I read a course on strategic marketing, some of the topics from the compulsory course were included in his series of lectures. As a result, the students received a broader spectrum of ideas on contemporary marketing strategies, and we are hoping to get their feedback on what was good and what needs improvement. This will help us to successfully continue the practice of joint lecture courses.
— As a member of the HSE International Expert Council, what do you think about the contents and the feasibility of the Faculty of Management development plan?
W. Johnston: In my view, the implementation of plan will allow the faculty to solve a number of such important tasks such as the Faculty’s accreditation by international organizations, the creation of research networks and the national association of management studies, increasing the number and development of master’s programmes and improving the technical capabilities of teaching at the faculty. The plan is ambitious but quite realistic. I think that it is already being gradually implemented. The conference which has just finished was a great step forward, since it involved some of the most prominent scientists and researchers from different countries.
— As far as I know, you work with the University of Helsinki, Finland.
W. Johnston: Every year for the last 20 years I have been visiting Finland to lecture. Primarily I cooperated with the Helsinki School of Economics, and after the merger of the University of Helsinki, the Helsinki School of Economics, the Technology University and the College of Design, I am continuing to cooperate with the newly created Aalto University School of Economics. Comparing your university with the Helsinki one, I would say that the level of the teaching staff is similar. The staff there, as well as here, are extremely interested in research work and international cooperation. Moreover, my Russian colleagues, Olga Tretyak and Marina Sheresheva, Head of the Laboratory of Network Organizational Forms, who were responsible for the organization of my course of lectures here, are both actively working with Finnish colleagues on joint international projects.
Valentina Gruzintseva, HSENewsService