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April 7, 2004

William Davidson Institute at the Business School names new director

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Robert E. Kennedy, an expert on business strategy and industrial dynamics in emerging economies, will become director of the William Davidson Institute (WDI) at the University of Michigan Business School on May 1, the WDI Board of Directors announced today.

Kennedy, who joined the Business School in September as a professor of business administration and as the associate director of WDI, succeeds Jan Svejnar, who will return to teaching full time at the Business School.

Kennedy came to the institute from Harvard Business School, where he was associate professor of business administration. He has worked in more than a dozen countries as a management consultant and venture capitalist.

Kennedy received bachelor's degrees in economics and political science from Stanford University, a master's degree in management science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a master's degree and doctorate in business economics from Harvard University.

"I think the William Davidson Institute is a tremendous resource for the University," Kennedy said. "It has had an impact on the study of transition and emerging market economies and on Michigan Business School students. Jan established a strong foundation, and I look forward to extending the institute's impact to new audiences."

The institute will continue to conduct research on transition economics, sponsor conferences on emerging market issues and showcase the work of more than 170 researcher affiliates at universities around the world. It also will launch research initiatives to document and disseminate best practices in public policy, business practice and management education.

"I believe WDI can play an important role in not only promoting existing research, but also creating and actively managing networks of economists, policy-makers, business practitioners, educators and the media with an interest in emerging market issues," Kennedy said. "There is currently little cross-fertilization among these groups. We will be working to make WDI a repository of best practices for multiple audiences."

The institute will continue to provide direct experience in emerging markets through student projects, executive education and technical assistance programs for development agencies such as the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development.

"Helping developing countries enter the global economy is an important part of our mission," Kennedy said. "These projects provide great opportunities and learning experiences for our students, and we can have a large impact by introducing best practices to local governments, educational institutions and businesses."

Business School Dean Robert Dolan, who also serves as president of the institute, said, "Bob's emphasis on the practitioner-oriented initiatives of the institute and making them relevant to economists, businesspeople and educators will help establish WDI as a gathering point for the study of emerging markets."

Dolan lauded Svejnar for his leadership. "Jan came in when the institute was getting started in 1996 and turned it into a first-class research institute," Dolan said. "He created a solid foundation upon which to build."

Svejnar, the Everett E. Berg Professor at the Business School and professor of economics, was an architect of the Czech Republic's economic reforms in the early 1990s and continues to advise Czech President Vaclav Havel. He co-founded the CERGE-EI in Prague, a graduate program that trains economists from the former Soviet bloc countries and is the only American-style Ph.D. program and research center in economics in Central and Eastern Europe.

Svejnar built the research capacity of the institute, including founding a working-paper series that ranks among the most downloaded in the world. "We've become the gateway to emerging markets for the Business School and the entire university," Svejnar said. The institute helped establish American-style business schools in emerging markets such as the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan and the Ukraine, and developed a quarterly emerging market forecast that is cited by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for accuracy.

Madeleine Albright joined WDI as its first distinguished scholar, and the institute established a Washington, D.C., office during Svejnar's tenure. Albright visits Ann Arbor regularly, hosts policy conferences on Capitol Hill and helps raise the institute's profile among government leaders. "None of this would have been possible," Svejnar said, without the institute's board, faculty and staff working together."

Albright and Kennedy will host a roundtable discussion April 23 on offshoring titled, "Globalization of Service Activities: Growth Catalyst or Final Straw for American workers?"

For more information on the conference, visit

The William Davidson Institute is a nonprofit, research and educational institute dedicated to creating and disseminating expertise on business and policy issues in emerging economies. It was established in 1992 with a grant from William Davidson and Guardian Industries, a company of 19,000 employees that operates manufacturing, fabrication and distribution facilities in 21 countries on five continents.

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Contact: Dan Shine
Phone: (734) 615-4563