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International Conferences Bring Diverse Benefits


Originally published in the Marianas Business Journal


University of Guam

Eighth Annual International Conference on Business, Economics and Information Technology in Taipei, Taiwan, March 17-18, 2014


The University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration held its eighth annual International Conference on Business, Economics and Information Technology in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 17 and 18 on the theme of "Doing Business in the Global Economy: Economic, Political, Social, Cultural and Technological Environments." On many different levels, this conference was a success. Not only that, but the benefits of an international conference are, quite literally, far-reaching for Guam's economy.

The successes of this annual conference start with its longevity. Let's talk about the longevity of our international conference series. We made it to year eight, itself an accomplishment in the midst of competition from many similarly themed events around the world. More important than longevity has been our record of excellence, measured in a number of ways.

First is the loyal customer base. More than half of our annual participants are return attendees, and many of them have joined us every year for five years or so now. Second is that 90% of participants rated our conferences as "excellent" or "very good." Third, although UOG-SBPA takes the lead every year, we have partnered with other universities that are much larger and more prestigious than UOG including partnerships with Penn State Altoona for eight years, Nagoya University for five years and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University for two years. Our most recent conference was co-sponsored by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, with its president wanting to co-sponsor again in the future.

Fourth, our conferences have been truly international with daily attendance from 60 to 120 participants from 20-plus universities in 10-plus countries. Except in 2007 and 2011 when our international conferences were held in Guam, our venues were cities in the Asia-Pacific region, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, Nagoya, Seoul and Cairns.

Regardless of the venue, our international conferences bring benefits to Guam in different ways. They increase the international visibility of UOG and Guam, for starters. For UOG, it is an opportunity for faculty and students to display UOG's success as an academic institution - that , despite its relatively small size, UOG can stand its own next to the bigger, more prestigious universities represented at the conferences. Participants have been quite surprised by how UOG and SBPA have managed to organize and deliver successful, high-quality and well-attended international conferences year after year. These positive impressions help elevate UOG's reputation as a truly excellent university in the Western Pacific.

In addition, papers presented at the conference can be peer-reviewed, with only the best papers published in international academic journals. Each published paper written by a UOG faculty or student is, in effect, an advertisement for UOG and Guam.

As for the conference's benefits for Guam, firstly, every resident who travels knows the joy of serving as de facto ambassadors for our island and the pressure of making sure to represent it well. By throwing in a dose of intrigue and curiosity, we hope that the individuals we meet during our travel would one day plan a visit to Guam with their family and friends and learn more about our island. Once they return to their home countries, we hope that they spread good words about Guam and invite more friends and family members to visit us and enjoy our island hospitality while helping boost our local economy, creating jobs and increasing our tax revenues.
Secondly, founded on the simple idea that "we have so much to learn from each other," the conference is a learning experience for our faculty and students (undergraduate and graduate), which we bring back home to share with our community.

Third, interactions by UOG faculty and students with scholars around the world result in further collaboration on mutual interests and a pooling together of different but complementary talents and experiences, where all parties and their institutions and countries benefit.

We look forward to an even more successful international conference next year in a venue close to our hearts: here on our home island of Guam.

- Maria Claret M. Ruane, Ph.D., is a professor of economics at the School of Business and Public Administration and the resident development economist at the Pacific Center for Economic Initiatives at the University of Guam. She may be reached at mcruane@uguam.uog.edu.