The University Record, February 6, 1996

Japanese telephone giant funds research on Asian finance

By Keith Decie
Business School

The Nippon Telephone and Telegraph Co. (NTT), one of the largest companies in Japan and a global force in telecommunications, is marking the 10th anniversary of its privatization with a $1.5 million gift to the Business School. The money will support a program that will have a presence in both Tokyo and Ann Arbor, and will increase the amount of Michigan research on Asian finance and economics as well as bring professors from leading universities in Asia to teach on these subjects at the Business School.

"The Asian economies are the fastest-growing in the world, but the amount of research on the economies of that part of the world is disproportionately small," says finance Prof. E. Han Kim, who will direct the new NTT program. "It's no secret that Asian finance and economics is different from the U.S., and American companies and the future business leaders we teach at Michigan have to understand those differences much better in order to be successful in the global arena."

The NTT program adds to the Business School's considerable portfolio of programs on Asian business, including the Mitsui Life Financial Research Center, which studies Pacific Basin financial markets and also is directed by Kim.

Kim, whose work is well-known worldwide, played a key role in bringing the NTT gift to the Business School. He will co-direct the NTT program with Takaaki Wakasugi of the University of Tokyo. Wakasugi is one of the most prominent finance experts in Japan. He is a frequent contributor to Japan's major newspapers and serves on advisory boards for the Japanese Ministry of Finance as well as the country's Postal and Telecommunications Ministry.

The NTT grant will support a research fellowship and a one-year visiting professorship for scholars from top Asian universities in alternating years. The program will start off its first year in fall 1996 with its first research fellowship.

"While there is an increased appreciation for the differences in the practices, institutions and legal structures between the U.S. and Asia, and for the differences among the Asian countries, there is insufficient understanding of those differences and how to work effectively in those systems," Kim says.

"Being an important part of NTT's celebration of its first decade of privatization is an honor for the School and we are deeply grateful for this gift," says Dean B. Joseph White. "Our stature in Asia puts us in a position where we can contribute not only toward improving Japan's understanding of Asian economies but also producing the knowledge and doing the teaching that will make American companies more competitive."