Blog Update – Unprecedented Opportunity in Lithuania

I have served a half semester at LCC International University as a Business professor. The other night as my Business 476 (Market Survey) class was adjourning for the last time one of the students asked me if I had a speech to give them. At first I said no but then I thought yes I do have some thoughts after my brief exposure to LCC, Lithuania and Eastern Europe.

The students of LCC have an unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of the shift to market economies in the eastern block of countries. All the countries seem to be at varying stages and speed of movement toward a market economy but they all seem to be moving that direction.

A market economy is much more open to the supply and demand forces that we have either learned about in economics. When a demand is sensed by the market supply will be created to fill the void. When the Soviet Union collapsed and its economic hierarchy went with it huge voids were created in the market place. One of those voids was in talented management personnel that could lead businesses in the new economy. Most Soviet management was trained in the Soviet style and systems that did not transfer well to the post Soviet market economy. As a result an entire layer of management was disrupted and was not very useful to the post Soviet companies.

In my discussions with students and others I have met here I have heard many tragic stories of disrupted careers of managers that had a comfortable living in the Soviet times but lost that when the market economy showed up. These people by and large have been left out of the economic boom that has followed. Their management training was not useful in a market based company.

This understanding on my part was reinforced when I recently attended a management seminar which was led by business leaders from the Baltic States and the EU. I was struck by how young the “senior managers” were that were presenting at the conference from the Baltic States. It was a stark contrast to my experience at similar conferences in the USA. There the mangers would have been at least 15 years older.

The other factor that exists is the relative age of the businesses in Lithuania and the other post Soviet countries. Since the market has been open for less than 20 years most businesses are less than 15 years old. This is quite a contrast to either the EU or USA where the typical business I come across has been in business at least 20 years and many, many whom have been in place for multiple generations. The young companies in the post Soviet countries are young and growing and need talented, educated management personnel.

When freedom was realized and the economies opened up government run operations were privatized and many businesses were started. These were started to fill the void left. There was huge demand for many types of products and services. In most countries of the world supply and demand forces have brought the two to near equilibrium. In the post Soviet countries supply and demand were totally unbalanced when freedom was achieved. Many smart entrepreneurs figured out where the imbalances existed and started businesses to supply the demand. This rebalancing has also only been going on for less than 20 years. Most economies like the USA and the EU have been doing this for a couple of centuries at least.

In the post Soviet countries there are still many imbalances that exist. With imbalance in supply and demand opportunity exists. There are still many opportunities to start businesses to satisfy this latent demand!

So where does this leave the typical LCC business graduate? I think it leaves him or her in the perfect position. They have an unprecedented opportunity to excel and lead their countries to a market economy. They are getting the type of business education necessary to be a leader in the future. They are getting an excellent command of the English language which combined with the many other languages they speak will be a bridge to the EU and beyond.

The business graduate from LCC can take their choice as to what they want to do…start a business, go to work for a business in need of management talent, get an advanced degree or additional technical training and pursue a more technical field…

They can also take their business knowledge and put it to work helping to solve some of the many social problems left in the wake of the Soviet era. Get involved in managing or starting a social welfare organization that can supply some of the demand for solutions here. Help solve some of their nations’ problems.

The opportunities are truly unlimited for LCC graduates. They are in a unique historical position to help lead their countries in the transition to economic and political freedom.

One Response to 'Blog Update – Unprecedented Opportunity in Lithuania'

Martin Wells
November 4, 2008, 2:35 pm

Hey John, way to go! I love it that you studied sabbatical (and no doubt watched Jon Nelson take one) and decided it was for you too. I have a dream that our church could support one another in sabbatical rest as part of our understanding of vocation.

I wish you well and I hope we get to do the story when you come home!
God be with you, Melanie, and the girls

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