While studying finance and economics abroad at Shanghai University in China during the fall semester of his senior year, Justin Chou ’10 also conducted research to fulfill the thesis requirements for Rider’s Baccalaureate Honors Program and Business Honors Program. His experience abroad not only opened Chou’s eyes to China’s distinct culture and business practices, but it also led to an opportunity that has set him apart from most of business graduates.
Chou recently co-wrote an article stemming from his research, along with Dr. Mitchell Ratner, associate professor of Finance, entitled “The Influence of Confucius on Intellectual Property Rights in China,” which will appear in the upcoming fall issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Emerging Markets. In the piece, Chou and Ratner describe how the cultural sensitivities derived from Confucianism play a fundamental role in China’s society and business culture.
Chou said his experience abroad and the latest publication helped him tremendously during his job search. Recently, he found a job with Rosetta Marketing Group, a Johnson & Johnson affiliate in the area of marketing research and advertising.
“Tell you the truth, I was blown away when I find out that the article would be published in the journal,” Chou said. “I think the article shows that I have really developed an understanding of business culture outside of the United States.”
Initially, Chou, who double-majored in Finance and International Business at Rider, wanted to pursue research for his two theses that complimented his career interests in international business, particularly in China. He says that intellectual property rights is a prevalent issue in the Asian nation, which he discovered during his yearlong Johnson & Johnson co-op, and from talking to representatives when he participated in a Johnson & Johnson student competition.
“One of the main concerns that Johnson & Johnson has is, ‘What makes the Chinese feel that they can copy our products?’” Chou explained. “Before I started to research a topic, I tried to figure out what exactly are the difficulties and prolonged problems for American companies coming into China. I started to search around, and instead of pointing out the obvious, I wanted to look at how the culture of China affects business practices.”
Before he left for China, Chou talked to Dr. Arlene Wilner, Baccalaureate Honors Program director, and Dr. Ira Sprotzer, Business Honors Program director, about exploring research in China for both of his theses. Under Wilner’s guidance, Chou was able to narrow his research to the ways Confucianism affects current business practices in China.
There, Chou’s uncle, a resident of China, was able to connect him to Chinese companies. He also had a chance to speak with Johnson & Johnson representatives he knew from his co-op, on business in China. In addition, Chou gained plenty of insight about Chinese business practices, while observing “cheap markets,” a big business in China, where vendors sell “knockoff” items. At one of the markets, Chou spoke with a vendor, who said that if he did not copy products, someone else would be doing it.
Chou said his research findings reinforced Confucius’ teachings, which focused on reflection or looking toward the best to better the future; imitation or copying others; and experience. Therefore, in the Chinese culture, when someone imitates someone else’s work, such as a poem or artwork, it’s a form of flattery, explained Chou.
“Throughout my paper, I had this main theme where culture builds society, which in turn establishes the laws. You don’t know it’s wrong unless society says it’s wrong,” he said. “I tried to prove the point that Confucius played a huge part in their culture.”
Once he finished writing his Baccalaureate Honors Program thesis, Chou needed to expand upon his research topic in order to fulfill the capstone requirement for the Business Honors Program. Chou sought out the guidance of Ratner, who had taught Chou in his International Finance course and also has some business and personal experiences in China, where he discussed the concept of intellectual property rights. While serving as Chou’s thesis adviser, Ratner was impressed by the student’s research, and later approached him with the idea of co-writing an article about the topic.
“While I have supervised numerous student research projects, I never considered a joint publication. I thought the paper topic was unique, and would interest both the business and academic community,” said Ratner. “In a small way, Justin not only gained international experience, but he has a better sense about how to conduct a research study. Publishing in a peer reviewed journal is challenging for most professors, and is a rare event for undergraduate business students. I believe that this experience will help him as he pursues a career in international business.”