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US Asia Policy Specialist Heads Korean Uni.
[Interview] John E. Endicott, vice chancellor at SolBridge Int'l School of Business in Daejeon
Margaret Lopulisa (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2008-01-24 16:40 (KST)   
When John Endicott left Georgia Tech, where he had served as the director of the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy at the Sam Nunn School at Georgia Tech to take on the challenge of launching a brand-new business school in Daejeon Korea, many people wondered what his motivations might be. After all, Endicott, who has served a central role in US policy towards Asia over the last 30 years and is best known for his work on non-proliferation is not usually associated with business.

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It is rather his advocacy for a Limited Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in Northeast Asia since 1992 that earned him the nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. The Interim Secretariat that administers that effort has been chaired by Endicott since 1996 and has moved with him to Daejeon.

We had a chance to catch up with Dr. Endicott at the SolBridge International School of Business recently and ask him about his work in this new environment. We wanted to know why he saw this move as critical to his project. He currently serves as co-president of Woosong University, which established the SolBridge International School of Business, and will assume the full position of president when the current restructuring effort is complete. That will make him the first foreigner to become president of a private Korean university. He also is Vice Chancellor for the SolBridge International School of Business.

OhmyNews: What is your vision for SolBridge International School of Business over the next 10 years?

John E. Endicott: I first want to see SolBridge examine specifically Asian business and the evolving nature of business and finance in Asia today. We have been given the unique opportunity to serve as a focal point for knowledge and debate about what is happening today in Asian business. We are at the epicenter of the transformation of today's business environment because we are located in Daejeon, on the cutting edge in evolving technologies.

John Endicott
©2008 Solbridge
We often pick up the Wall Street Journal, or similar journals from around these days and read articles about Asian business. But those articles are often the commentaries of generalists, or global figures in economics and finance. Rare indeed are the examples of turning to a source within Asia for an interpretation of business in Asia. We miss the Asian perspective on Asian business within the global community, and as Asia becomes more important, that gap must be filled. SolBridge will serve that function. We will be a lighthouse of sorts, a beacon shining light on the specifics of business and economics in Asia, but doing so in English with a global audience. We have faculty from around the world at our school, each offering his or her unique views on the Asian economy.

My vision is that within 10 years we will have produced a generation of talented graduate students, and of course undergraduate students, who will go out in the world and put our theories about Asia and business into practice. Some of those graduates will be extremely successful, because of the tools we have given them, and they will support us financially and establish our global reputation. We already have a few students who might play that role, but it will be through our students that we are known.

I recognize that 10 years is a short time in terms of building an institution. After all, in my experience at Georgia Tech we had one person who was extremely successful in the fast food business and came back to give us a $20 million grant out of thanks for the education he received. But those cases are rare. Rather it will be our students, when they are engaged in business, industry or government, who will earn an international reputation for themselves and for us, and that will signal our arrival. We have, and will have, students of that caliber, and since they come from around the world, I think we will get there.

Background on Dr. Endicott

Dr. John Endicott served as a Professor at the Sam Nunn School at Georgia Tech and director of the school's Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy for the last eighteen years. His numerous publications on policy and technology include five books: Japan's Nuclear Option, The Politics of East Asia, American Defense Policy, Regional Security Issues, & U.S. Foreign Policy: History, Process, and Policy.

Dr. Endicott came to the Georgia Institute of Technology in July, 1989, after a 31-year career in government - 28 with the United States Air Force and three as a member of the Senior Executive Service of the Department of Defense. As an officer of the United States Air Force, he held various positions in the intelligence, education and policy arenas, including: Deputy Head of the Political Science Department at the United States Air Force Academy; Director, International Affairs for the Planning Directorate of Air Force Headquarters, the Pentagon; Deputy Air Force Representative to the Military Staff Committee of the Security Council, the United Nations; Associate Dean of the National War College; Director of the Research Directorate and NDU Press at the National Defense University; and acting Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies, NDU, Washington, D.C.

Upon retiring as a Colonel in 1986, he served as Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies, a policy-oriented research organization serving both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dr. Endicott has served as Chairman of the Interim Secretariat of the Limited Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone for Northeast Asia since 1996. Both Dr. Endicott and the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia Program were nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

In April 2004 he was elected President of the Korea-Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was appointed a visiting professor at Montesquieu University of Bordeaux IV. He received the Mike Mansfield Award from the Japan-America Society of Georgia in 1996. Dr. Endicott serves as Executive Vice Chairman for the Southeast

Korea America Friendship Society and has a seat on the Executive Board of the Japan-America Society of Georgia. The Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Greater Atlanta presented him the General Raymond G. Davis award in 2006 for lifetime service toward peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

Dr. Endicott received his Ph.D. in international affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a program run jointly by Tufts University and Harvard in 1974. He also holds a B.A. in political science from The Ohio State University, a Masters in history from the University of Omaha, a Masters in international affairs and a Masters of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School. His areas of specialization include Asian security studies, with special emphasis on the Korean Peninsula, American defense policy, and professional military education.
Because we are preparing our students to take full advantage of the Asian economy, to be prepared to seize the advantages offered by recent developments, we will be positioned well a decade from now. And because we are looking at technology, and how it has changed the environment for business and human relations, we have some very compelling projects in the pipeline now. In 10 years we will have a good group of graduates and talented young students who are ready to take on the world in business. Asia is a very dynamic region and because of the potential China has shown to succeed in addressing the challenges it faces, there is a good chance that we can play a critical role in the formation of a "neighborhood Asia," as I like to call it. We can play a major role in policy with regards to business, economics, education and international relations because we are looking at the intersection of those fields at our school.

How will SolBridge International School of Business be different from other business schools?

I feel that our school is already critically different from the start. To start with all of our faculty are foreigners, and they are from around the world: Japan, South Africa, India, Canada, the United States, Singapore, etc. Most international programs in Korea have just one or two foreigners, often as visiting faculty. Moreover, our first class at SolBridge is made up entirely of foreign students from around the world. We use English as our medium of communication and instruction, not just because we want to be international, but it is in fact the only shared language.

In a sense we're pulling together all of Asia here; we want to make a major statement from the beginning: this is going to a program that is global in prospective, but is focused on Asia. We will serve as a research and educational facility that can help businesses serve as an incubator to help new generate ideas for business finding ways to make them viable and profitable. I see great potential in our role as an incubator. If we can play that role with an Asian focus, especially being right in Daejeon, Asia's IT capital, we can achieve something no other school has.

There is a link between my own personal concern with international stability and business. One of the greatest needs for Asia is to establish definitively a political and social environment that will encourage people to invest in Asia. And the only way that people with money will invest is an assurance that the investment will return the money to them. If there is any sense that the long-term security situation is instable, that may make the prospects look cloudy, even if the potential on the ground is great. So the unresolved problems with North Korea that I have devoted my work to are deeply linked to the projects of a business school, and it is natural that I should be here.

The progress we have had so far in integrating North Korea into the international community has generated considerable investment opportunities over the last two decades. There remains much opportunity, but it is dependent on an improved security environment. For example, there is a Tuman River economic zone in North Korea up near the Russian and Chinese border that offers immense potential, but it has been languishing for years. The security environment has not encouraged people to invest there. So far the only funds are from the United Nation Development Program because investors are not confident in the security environment there.

We will work on both encouraging business to help create an environment of confidence and resolving diplomatic and security issues in order to help business. That is why I felt that the project that I was working on, the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia (LNWFZ-NEA), at Georgia Tech could be transferred here. Moreover, having Asia as a base, rather than Georgia, gives our effort to reduce, and eventually eliminate, nuclear weapons from Northeast Asia greater credibility. It is critical in the field of nonproliferation that we should be active in the region we are talking about.

I am talking with companies and research institutions here about the establishment of an integrated railroad system, educational exchanges between schools all over Asia for cooperation in business: moves that create a powerful dynamism bringing together the region. We saw that process in Europe over the last 50 years and it made for a harmonious and tight community. We are making good headway right now in Asia. Nevertheless, there remain some obstacles to overcome in the political and diplomatic realms. I think that SolBridge can actually lead the way in policy through its cooperative approach.

What is it specifically about Korea, and about Daejeon, that is appealing to you as an environment for such an international school?

I didn't know much about Daejeon when I received the offer to come to SolBridge. But when I started to read more about the city in preparation for transferring the secretariat for the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia (LNWFZ-NEA) here, I realized that here was one of the great research clusters of the world right at the heart of Asia. I read a very insightful research paper by a Japanese scholar who compared Japan's research complex in Tsukuba with the famed Daedeok Valley in Daejeon. The Japanese scholar spoke of his great surprise, and even trepidation, to find out just how successful Daejeon has become in incubating new ideas for industry. He noted that the encouragement of innovation in Daejeon was much greater and that Daejeon's overall productivity was three times that of Tsukuba. He was saying that "we Japanese must do something if the Koreans are so efficient at getting new products into the market." That paper opened my eyes to the potential of Daejeon and I grasped what SolBridge was trying to achieve. When I arrived, I found a plethora of research institutes, universities, corporate research institutes and some 7,000 PH.Ds in technical fields serving to form a unique ecosystem. I could see that we have here the intellectual leverage to turn this area into an engine to generate growth throughout Korea and Asia.

I feel lucky to be a part of a promising city like Daejeon. SolBridge is right in the middle of this ecosystem and we are not constrained by any assumptions. We can take advantage of all the educational and research facilities, and businesses, here from the start and build truly global alliances. The business dynamism here is very unique. I am impressed by the manner in which regional government and city government are cooperating with business. I think Solbridge can also become a significant player in that process, bringing various elements together and focusing them on the specific needs of our age. We can grasp the global picture and the long-term security issues and then coordinate with those who either are developing technologies, or who are commercializing them, to assure relevance. In a nutshell, we have the chance to turn academic and intellectual wealth that has gathered in this region into results for Daejeon, Solbridge and of course Korea.

What do you imagine the future of Asia's economy will be, and how will SolBridge International School of Business be involved?

The future of Asian economy is tied up so much with the China question; if China is going to be the manufacturing center of the world other countries will need to have a niche for themselves within that economic system so that balance remains. Asia is going have to really focus on how the relationship between China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia evolves as all of these countries must maintain a healthy economic relationship. If China absorbs all resources and takes over all production, that could lead to imbalance. The question remains: what is done with resources and knowledge? Because the economy of Asia will determine the course of the world economy in the 21st century, the success in Asia of establishing such a stable system is critical for all of us. And that is related to globalization and the death of distance due to technology: even in Japan you can you can pick up the phone and ask for help with your computer and you will be speaking with a Chinese who speaks Japanese. So many jobs migrate to China, India and the Philippines that way. I hope that we can continue to develop middle-class consumers and the will support the economy. But the real question is China. Will China be able to handle its floating population of a hundred-million? That domestic issue will impact the entire global economy.

Tell us about your upcoming conference on the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia. What is significant about this conference and specifically about this session?

This conference will mark the 12th plenary of a series of high-level track-two talks that have been going on since 1995. The concept itself developed from the specific environment on the peninsula in 1991. North and South Korea had come to a nonaggression agreement and there was a real possibility of a denuclearization agreement for the Korean Peninsula. Being an Asianist, and a nuclear weapon specialist, I looked at what had been accomplished in Korea and thought it was time to reinforce those developments with a regional structure; otherwise it could not succeed. Unfortunately although two agreements were ratified in 1992, they were never put into effect. We moved forward from there with a plan for a nuclear weapon free zone and, in that sense, that became the basis for building a "Neighborhood Asia." Our discussions went beyond nuclear weapons and security. We work with three "baskets." The first basket examines the details and technical aspects of a nuclear free zone. Basket 2 covers those approaches for confidence building throughout the region. Basket three treats economic incentives to ensure North Korea's active participation in this whole project. We will be meeting in Daejeon this year and we expect to have active participation from the research institutes here.

As the 12th session of our talks, the significance of 2008 is great because we are approaching 2010, the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference of the United Nations held every five years to consider our progress in reducing nuclear weapons worldwide. The environment in Northeast Asia is improved and we have active Six-Party Talks and South-North bilateral talks. It is time to address these developments with specific recommendations for the redefinition of nuclear weapon free zones. We will propose in Daejeon that the definition of nuclear free zones be expanded to allow greater flexibility and serve as an instrument to reduce tension. Right now the definition of a "nuclear free zone" requires it to be completely nuclear weapons free. In Asia, that's impossible; we have China, Russia and United States involved. We have to do something that is less than perfect at the start. That will be a "limited" nuclear weapon free zone, which would allow us to control certain weapons in the region and come together with an international review group that would require that all participate regularly.

To build good relations between countries, you have to establish working level relationships and the inspection process related to a limited nuclear-free zone would start those regular meetings between the Chinese, the Russians, the Americans, the Koreans, the Japanese and others. Then we would see the atmosphere change, and that, more than anything else, makes the difference. The Russian have a saying, "The perfect is the enemy of the good." If you wait until something is perfect, it may never happen. But if we have a chance to make progress, let's do it. Then we can accomplish something that will lead to other things.

I remember what happened between the Soviet Union and United States after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. That crisis and subsequent dialog, transformed the world. We hope to use the same approach to change Northeast Asia, but the first step in the direction is to convince diplomats that we can start with a nuclear weapons free zone that is not perfect. It's a starting point, and that is our goal at this event. We will invite the newly recognized Central Asian Nuclear Free Zone to send representatives to come to this year's plenary session.

We also will invite representatives from the Southeast Asia Nuclear Free Zone, as well as Australia, Pakistan and India. That is to say, this event in Daejeon will show the world what we have done to develop a model that addresses the situation, be it less than perfect. Perhaps we can enter into a meaningful dialog with India and Pakistan, or maybe even extend our effort to the Middle East by addressing the issues there with Israel and Iran. The first step is to address firmly the situation in Northeast Asia by resolving the North Korean nuclear problem. By bringing all of Asia to Daejeon to consider this issue, we will make this city a critical locus in nonproliferation.

Our efforts are entirely non-official. We invite people from government to observe, but they do not formally represent their governments, they are observers, and they can take the ideas back with them. LNWFZ NEA embodies what is known as "track-two diplomacy." Track one is official, government-to-government exchanges. We make up a more informal dialog between academics, retired military and retired diplomats. As such, we can have real impact, but we are not restricted in the content of our discussions.

Tell us about your faculty here at SolBridge. What distinguishes them?

We have a small, but dedicated group of faculty here in Daejeon. We are held together by a strong dedication to the idea of SolBridge and we form a team. You might assume that such a small group would naturally be a team, but team work is not the norm in academics. The greatest shock that I had after 28 years as an air force officer and three years as a senior military official was to discover that whereas mission was the most important aspect in government and everybody shares one mission, in academia every professor is an "army of one" and team work is far from their minds. Each person is concerned about publications for tenure and teaching responsibilities. What other professors are doing is not that important. So SolBridge is unique in the degree to which we cooperate. I continually focus on how to keep us together as a team.

We want to bring in faculty from different countries. We have faculty from the United States, Canada, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, South Africa and Iran. I don't want to see the university be dominated by American faculty. We should have faculty from Europe, Africa and South East Asia in the future. As our student body becomes more diverse, so will our faculty.

What are your thoughts on the issues confronting East Asia today: economic, social, diplomatic and security? What do we need to pay attention to?

In Asia we really need to strike the balance between the power and dynamism that China generates and the response of the region to that new phenomenon. In China there are 100 million drifting workers, who go from city to city looking for jobs. These people are falling through the cracks in the social welfare net and their children are not educated because they don't have the local residency status. That is a lot of people and the issue has to be dealt by China successfully. If that does not happen the whole economic experiment with market reforms is at risk. That issue, is not limited to China. Throughout Asia, the Americas, and even Europe, we see a growing gap between the haves and have-nots. The growing inclination of the managerial section of society to leave far behind workers is very disturbing. If we don't address that problem, we will create fissures in the foundations of societies that could be serious in long term.

When I started to work in Asia back in 1958 there was not a noticeable difference between top executives and the workers. In Korea or Japan, the salary of an executive was at most ten times the salary of a worker. But now the executive salary may be 300 times that of a worker. We should be concerned. There are limits to what workers will accept, and if we exceed those limits, the entire structure is at risk. Corporations have a responsibility to think seriously about what the larger implications of such inequity may be. I think we are ultimately talking about an ethical issue


©2008 OhmyNews

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