Business IT professor receives Fulbright to teach and do research in Portugal

February 22, 2002

BLACKSBURG, Va., February 22, 2002 - Virginia Tech business information technology professor Philip Huang has received a Fulbright fellowship to teach and do research in Portugal next year. Huang will be based at the Universidade de Coimbra, the second oldest university in Europe.

Huang, who will leave next May for a three-month stay, will teach an MBA course and do research to assess the impact of information technology on supply-chain management in Portuguese companies. A member of the European Union, Portugal has made significant strides in economic development, Huang said. With new and modern infrastructure and a skilled and inexpensive labor force, it has attracted considerable foreign direct investment from such multinationals as Ford, GM, Siemens, Texas Instruments, Lear, and Samsung.

"To continue its impressive economic growth, Portugal will have to continue upgrading -- not only its infrastructure, but also its management systems," said Huang, who specializes in international operations management. He studied factory automation in Japan on a previous Fulbright fellowship and has taught and done research in other countries in Asia and in Europe during his more than 20 years at Virginia Tech. His interest in Portugal, he said, is a natural outgrowth of his active participation in the International Operations Consortium, a six-member academic consortium that includes Virginia Tech and the Universidade de Coimbra. Since 1997, he has served as the consortium's business coordinator.

It will be Huang's second trip to Coimbra. He taught two MBA course modules and conducted research with two professors during his previous visit, in the summer of 1998. "We developed an aggregate production planning model that more closely reflects Portugal's business practices and culture, including the reluctance to lay off workers when product demand is low," Huang explained. They demonstrated the model's application with data from a Portuguese. company. Their article was published in 2000 in a refereed journal, the International Journal of Production Research.

Huang hopes his research next year will contribute to greater understanding of supply-chain management practices in Portugal and will give American businesses needed knowledge about using information technology to manage supply chains there.

He also hopes that his study will find use in the classroom with teachers who seek to blend theory with practical and current examples and a global perspective. "International operations management has become an integral part of management education in American business schools," Huang said.
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PR CONTACT: Sookhan Ho (540) 231-5071 sookhan@vt.edu

Virginia Tech

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