Stephen Morris Blogs

Day 7 in El Salvador

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Day 7 – Tuesday June 21

Roberto Rubio, an economist, is the head of the second largest think tank in El Salvador. We hear a little of his background, of how he was the political spokesperson in Europe for the FMLN and he returned to the country after the civil war. He talks about the current political situation and how El Salvador is poised between democracy and not…He equates the recent act of the Assembly requiring unanimous decisions from the Constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court as a coup d’état (the first we have heard that concept used here). It is quite an interesting viewpoint.

We ask ‘What would you do if you were the economic minister?’ He goes on to elaborate on several ideas he would implement. Obviously, his think tank has been working on many problems for the past 19 years and he has a wealth of ideas to implement. Bottom line: he would set forth a strong vision for the country and explain to the people why ideas such as tax reform need to take place, where the money would go, and what it might do for the country.

Our second speaker has cancelled as he fell and broke his elbow in two places. Instead, we drive by the  U.S. embassy which is a huge complex in San Salvador. As I pull out my camera, I am told “Don’t take any pictures, they’ll arrest you!” Wow. OK, I won’t take pictures – I’ll go to Google earth and check it out…

We take a long busride into the countryside. It begins raining and I think “Uh-oh, I don’t have any rain gear with me.” But neither does anybody else. It is supposed to rain in the late afternoon or at night, not mid-morning. But it stops raining about 10 minutes before our destination which is the gravesite of the four churchwomen who were abducted, raped, and murdered by the military on December 2, 1980. A monument and chapel have been built at the site and we hold a memorial service for them and all of the martyrs of the war.

We continue on the road to a place outside the town of Zuatelecuo, Los Marinitos. We join a meeting where community leaders of the surrounding villages gather each Tuesday afternoon. People arrive by bus, on bicycle and horseback. They discuss the latest projects, the one of most immediate concern is changing the bed of the local river. It is only by accident that the villagers have found out about this (amazing how some things never change) and they have demanded that their voices be heard. It is possible that the river project will flood several villager’s lands and the people are demanded more discussion and study of the issue before the town proceeds.

We are given coconuts to drink from, the tops and bottoms of the outer green husks have been lopped off, a hole to drink from cut into the hard shell at the top, and the hole is covered by a slice of the husk to keep insects from getting in. We drink from the coconuts during the meeting as the day is hot and humid – much hotter than San Salvador. As we are leaving, we notice a computer with a make-shift antennae grabbing signals for the Internet. It is remarkable what the locals can do to connect to the modern world.

We get on the bus and begin the long ride back to our hotel. I start dreaming of the pupuseria that we had gone to several nights before. I find out others are interested in going, too, and we are all excited when we hear that, indeed, it is to the pupuseria we are to have dinner.

Day 6 in El Salvador

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Day 6 – Monday June 20

We meet in the hotel to listen to Margarita who lived in El Salvador in the early days of the civil war. She told us of the persecution by the right-wing party and of their attempt to capture her, even though her family had ties to the military. She fled to Mexico with her children to escape the war, but one winter holiday, her children begged her to let them go home for a week or two to visit their friends. She relented and after only a day, her two oldest children were ‘disappeared.’ For three days she had no word and lived in agony that she would never see her children again. There was an international effort to free her children, and her family used their connections to intervene. After three days, one child was released, but the other was sent to prison – her only crime was that she was related to someone who had been close to Archbishop Romero. She appealed to a U.S. Senator who was visiting both Mexico and El Salvador, and, after he visited the child in prison, he (apparently) intervened and the child was released.

The experience destroyed the family unit – she underwent a divorce and the children have had a rocky relationship with their mother ever since.

We watch a documentary on Jean Donovan, a lay church worker, who was murdered along with three nuns. They were picked up by the military, raped, shot execution style, then buried in a mass grave. The incident became international news, and although the lowly soldiers who carried out the crime were eventually convicted, the higher-ups who ordered the killings were never prosecuted. Father Paul Schindler, who is in the documentary, visits with us and gives more background and details of the incident. A number of people in the group are quite moved…

After lunch at the hotel, we go back to the neighborhood where we had attended Mass the day before and visit Fe y Alegria. We are met by a Sister of the Sisters of Charity. From their website, “Fe y Alegria is a ‘Movement for Integral Popular Education and Social Development’ whose activities are directed to the most impoverished and excluded sectors of the population, in order to empower them in their personal development and their participation in society.”

Fe y Alegria is a school where students can be in a safe environment. We see students in their uniforms hanging around before classes start and we move into a classroom for a talk. Unfortunately, the area has just been fumigated, a music lesson is starting a few feet outside the door, and we move to another classroom. We hear stories of hope as well as a story of tragedy. Of kids who begin an ascent out of poverty, and of a star student who was killed by gang violence. We are told of the building of a wing of the school and how, almost by divine providence, funds become available.

Our last stop of the day is with Rick Jones at Catholic Relief Services. He has a wealth of information about present day El Salvador and what he sees as many of its problems. He lists as his top five issues: a) the economy (unemployment); b) violence; c) emigration (to the U.S.) as splitting apart families; d) global warming; and e) health care. It is insightful and articulates what we have been trying to define during our stay. The problems can seem insurmountable, but there are people like Rick who are fighting a daily battle to make people’s lives better all over Central and South America.

Day 5 in El Salvador - Pollo Campero

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Before heading out for our first trip to the countryside, we stop at Pollo Campero (your companion chicken!) and have lunch. It is a large KFC-like place with lots of fried food. There are lots of service staff in the place – I have noticed that many places, including the supermarket, have what we would consider an over abundance of help. But the Salvadorans are not looking for efficiency but rather full employment. In the supermarket, there were two people in every aisle ready to assist you!

Two U.S. soldiers walk in to Pollo Campero as we are leaving, startling many of us. I ask what they are doing in El Salvador, since U.S. army personnel have not been stationed in the country for years. They are support staff for a group of U.S. Special Forces that are competing in a ‘Pan-American’ competition. Evidently, many countries in the Americas have sent soldiers to this competition and this year it is being held for two weeks in June in El Salvador.

We take a 50 minute ride into the countryside where we meet Vladimir, the FMLN guerrilla we saw in the documentary Enemies of War. The bus stops on the road and we hike up a short way to the small adobe brick house Vladimir has built. He lives there with his children and grandchildren, his wife having passed away from cancer shortly after the documentary was filmed in 1994. He regales us with stories of when he had to go to the capital to get documents and pretending he was not a guerrilla. The time with Vladimir is all too brief – many of us feel that we could have stayed all day and into the evening listening to the stories he has to tell.

Day 5 in El Salvador - Sunday Mass

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Day 5 – Sunday June 19

It is our earliest day yet – be ready for the bus at 7:30am. We drive to a very poor community in San Salvador where we are going to hear Sunday mass. We pass through many neighborhoods and head down a steep incline, through winding, narrowing  streets. We cross a one lane bridge across a river and the bus backs up a narrow street and stops in front of a house. A woman emerges and will take us to where the mass is being held. Walking through the town reminds me of some of the villages in Tuscany with the houses closely packed along twisting walkways, though the houses in Tuscany are much nicer.

The mass has started and is being held in the middle of a main street of the area. It is somewhat of a carnival atmosphere all morning long. People are walking by with baskets on their heads with goods to sell, futbol players heading off to play. Roosters crowing, someone trying to start their car over and over again. People dressed in their Sunday best arrive at a house next door for services of another denomination – I cannot believe how many people they must have packed into that little house next to the ‘church’ holding the mass.

The priest, Father Luis, asks us to introduce ourselves to the crowd of perhaps 150. Belinda, whose parents came from Mexico and is fluent in Spanish, tells the congregation where we are from. People get up and give us their chairs to sit on, though many of us prefer to stand in the shade across the street. Bob translates the homily as we listen with our earpieces. Off in the distance we see a drum corps walking towards us with their instruments. They stop in front of us and line up in the street. They are introduced as a community group formed by the church to help students stay on the straight and narrow. And then they play for the crowd – I feel like I am back in college listening to the band as they march out onto the field. They are pretty good – considering they were formed only two months ago!

After the service we go inside the storefront church and talk with Father Luis and the students from the drum corps. We ask questions about life in the community, their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. The first one tells us he wants to get out of there, to build a better life away from poverty. Another tells a moving story of how his best friend was murdered simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of how he did not find out about the killing until after the funeral was held and is still grieving. But the Mass and the whole morning experience is one of joy and exuberance and is a highlight of our trip.

Day 4 in El Salvador - the Supreme Court

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We arrive back at the Hotel Alicante to watch a documentary filmed just before the FMLN offensive of November 1989. The film follows a guerrilla leader of the FMLN as she and her group both plan for the offensive and keep moving to avoid the Salvadoran army. What is remarkable is not just the documentary, but we hear a little of Maria Serrano’s (her nom de guerre) story since then. During the film she mentions several times that after the war she is going to go back to school – it is her lifelong dream. After the peace accords in 1992, she went back to school and became a teacher. In 1997, the FMLN party begged her to run for an assembly seat and she won. But she was not happy in the post and saw the corruption of the political process up close. She left politics to return to teaching, but several years ago she was named the Vice-Governor of her province. Then earlier this year, she was appointed to the President’s cabinet and is now the Minister of the Interior for El Salvador. And we get to speak with her on Tuesday as part of the immersion… pretty cool!

After lunch at the hotel we listen to a Justice of the Supreme Court , Sidney Blanco, who was elected in 2009. What makes his election so significant is that there were four people elected that year who are honest and incorruptible, and all four were put into the Constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court. That is, they rule on the constitutionality of laws in El Salvador. There are other chambers that rule on civil, criminal, and administrative laws. Sidney Blanco was an Assistant Attorney General in the late 1980’s and was involved in seeking justice for those Jesuits who were murdered in November 1989. When it became clear that the then-Attorney General wasn’t going to pursue the case, he quit and became the legal counsel for the Jesuits. His reputation in the country is spotless.

He and his other honest colleagues have made a number of rulings over the past two years that have really angered the ruling parties, so much so that the Assembly passed a (unconstitutional) law two weeks ago that stated that all rulings must be unanimous (there are five justices in the constitutional chamber one of the justices who has been there before is of the old school – hmmmm, shall we say less than honest? ) so the four new justices would be stymied. The country is in an uproar over this law (though the constitutional justices have ruled it invalid), the people have been protesting in the streets (helped by Facebook and Twitter!), and the party that passed the law in the assembly is now furiously backtracking as the people know that their rights are being taken away and they know who is responsible.  We could be living during a true turning point in the history of the Salvadoran people.

We dine at Chevys, though not the chain from the U.S. Some of us drink margaritas…the food is ok but the price is right (very reasonable).

Day 4 in El Salvador - The Hospital Rosario

(El Salvador Immersion) Permanent link

Day 4 – Saturday June 18

Day started early – we are on the bus at 8am and off to Hospital Rosario, a free public hospital where the poor of San Salvador go for treatment. We are met by Dr. Virginia Rodriguez who is head of surgery at the hospital and she takes us on a tour of the wards. The hospital opened in 1902 and has survived the four major Salvadoran earthquakes of the 20th century. I ask if I can take pictures and the doctor says yes – she doesn’t impose any restrictions on taking pictures of the wards or people. I think this is a bit odd, but I am willing to take pictures.

The hospital is clean, but like most hospitals in lesser developed countries, people are crowded into open wards. There may be 40 or 50 people all lying on beds next to each other in some of the wards as hospital staff move among them. There is essentially no privacy for anyone except there are curtains that can be drawn between beds in some of the wards. The concept of a private room doesn’t exist at this hospital. I realize why I can take pictures with impunity. Everyone sees everyone else – literally dozens and dozens  of people could go by a bed in a day. The intake area is filled with people on gurneys and on chairs. Yet we are told that, because this is a Saturday, relatively few people are there. Dr. Rodriguez tells us it is usually really crowded with patients, and I think, ‘This isn’t crowded?’  But I refuse to take any pictures in the intake ward. I feel it is too intrusive – an invasion of privacy and a line I will not cross. I can take a distance shot of a ward with people on beds, but the intake ward is too close, too personal.

The hospital reminds me I am in another country, one that is in the developing world, and I am both impressed at the incredible dedication of the nurses and doctors and appalled at the lack of health care facilities. The hospital is strapped for funds and cannot hire as many doctors or nurses as they need, nor do they have enough beds for the patients.

Day 3 in El Salvador - Don Lito and the UCA

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Day 3 – Friday June 17

We stay at the hotel for our first speaker.  Don Lito has come from a remote town and it has taken him 4 hours to get here by walking and bus. His is a story that is gripping – he tells of growing up in a society that cheats its poorest workers. How thousands of people would work 12 hour days in the coffee plantations, the atrocious living conditions, and be cheated by the owners of their pay.

He tells of the violence of the police and National Guard as a way of life in the country. And he talks about events in his town leading up to the civil war. The intimidation, the outright lies that the government perpetrates on these people.  Don Lito is a spellbinding storyteller and his history is told in the book Don Lito of El Salvador by Maria Lopez Vigil.

After listening to Don Lito, we have 1 ½ hours before we are to eat at the UCA. Why such a long break? Well, when it takes 4 hours to get to the big city, you must take advantage of it and go shopping. Bob is taking Don Lito to the market and stores and will meet up at the UCA.

John Koeplin and I go for a walk through the neighborhood, past the UCA, and down to the main boulevard. We pass five or six places with armed guards – men with semi-automatic rifles slung over their shoulders (our hotel has a 24-hour guard, too). The day is quite pleasant as there is a tropical storm forming off the coast and keeping the temperatures down. We meet up with the group and go to lunch at the UCA cafeteria. Several of us are struck at how it feels like we are in a high school. The seating is on benches and tables with a covered seating area. There are many young people – younger than at USF. We realize that high school ends at 11th grade so many of the students at the UCA are 17, possibly even 16 years old.

We wander over the UCA bookstore. It reminds me of a small town independent bookstore. There are no shirts, mugs, or any other kind of merchandise we have come to associate with a North American university bookstore. We head up the hill and go to the museum of the martyrs which is built next door to the house where the 6 Jesuits and their housekeeper and her daughter were assassinated. We listen to Father Jon Sobrino, SJ, the one surviving member of the Jesuit community of that time. He escaped being killed as he was in Thailand giving a talk. We then wander through the museum itself and then outside the house where the priests were murdered. It was quite moving, and chilling…

On The wall in the chapel where the priests are buried is a poem which was part of a memorial service marking the 20th anniversary of their deaths. Bob translated the poem for us and broke down when he reached the list of names of the priests. It struck me then how intimately tied to the events Bob was. He may not have been a participant, but as a reporter, he was an observer of all the violence, chaos, injustice, and brutality of the war. I wanted to go up to him and hold him…

We go to the office of the president of the UCA, he is known as the ‘Rector’ of the university. The rector spends about 45 minutes telling us about the current state of the university. He is a young Jesuit and is feeling a bit overwhelmed in his new position – he has been rector for only 5 months. We take a group photo and then head back to the hotel.

Before dinner we have a reflection/discussion. We are asked to tell the group about the one image that has most impacted us during our first two days in El Salvador. Some mention the squatter community we visited on the first day, some about the horrors of war, the images of torture and murder that were painted for us by our speakers. I mention seeing Bob break down as he is reading the poem, as his emotion brings home to me for the first time the human impact of the war. Hearing the retelling of the stories I have maintained some emotional distance. The people who speak to us have survived and are Bobrally healthy. But every day we have been hearing more and more about Bob’s observations of El Salvador over the past 31 years, and the layers are peeling away like on onion. His breaking down in the chapel showed some of the first true emotions on our trip and I was deeply affected…

We go to dinner at a Pupuseria next door to the Universidad Albert Einstein. Pupusas are hand-made thick corn tortilla stuffed with something such as cheese, vegetables, beans, and combinations of these. They are delicious.

Day 2 in El Salvador - the Hospitalito

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We leave and stop at a Mister Donut (the El Salvador franchises of Dunkin’ Donuts). I eat a cheese crepe, though I ordered one with chorizo. I am not going to send it back.

After lunch, we go to the hospitalito where Archbishop Oscar Romero lived the last few years of his life and was assassinated by the right wing military and upper class establishment. We are met by Eva, a woman who is a nun and who had known Romero, both when he was a parish priest and the archbishop. She told a story of how the nuns went out into the countryside and brought some education to the people. The people wanted to learn how to read and write, to understand the origins of the Bible. The nuns taught them to read, but also taught them to have skills other than subsistence farming. The women learned to sew and cooperatives were set up where some bought the cloth, others sewed, and still others sold the finished products. The men in the village were a bit jealous and wanted to learn a skill, too. The nun asked what they wanted to do. Well, they said, we see big things called cars. How about learning a skill to work on them? So they taught them welding skills and some mechanic work, so when the men went into the city of San Miguel, they could claim to have a skill and be hired.

After an hour talk we tour the chapel and Romero’s house. The house is simple, just as Romero wanted it. The nuns built it for him but it had to be simple or he would refuse to live in it. Two bedrooms, a sitting room, and a bath. I take pictures as I realize I am the unofficial photographer of the trip. I am the only one with a decent camera (most take pictures with their smart phones) and I will put the pictures onto CDs for the group.

We return to the hotel and listen to a student, Efraim, who has received scholarships from his rural community and the Jesuit foundation at UCA. He tells his story of his family moving from his village in the early days of the civil war to avoid the death squads. Of losing his mother soon after he was born, his father leaving to marry another woman and raise a different family,  and being raised by his grandparents.  He tells of his botched medical procedure when he was two – a doctor severing some nerves in his hip which will ultimately lead to his losing his left leg before he is 30. He puts our parent and grandparents stories to shame (you know, the ones where they had to walk miles through the snow to get to school) as he recounts his 3 ½ hour walks each way to a school in another community. And that is in the dry season. When the rains make the river he needs to cross impassable at the usual place, he must walk an additional ½ hour to a bus which takes another 30 minutes to get to the school. And only if the bus is running and hasn’t broken down. Otherwise, he had to walk the rest of the way himself.

His school only goes to the 9th grade and he stops school for two years. Then a neighboring community opens up a high school and he finishes high school. His community decides to give him a scholarship to go to college – he goes but after two years he realizes that it is too easy and isn’t what he wants. He transfers to UCA and the Jesuits give him a scholarship for room and board. He has struggled with some of his courses, he loses his leg and now has a prosthesis. But now, as he is nearing 30 years old, he will finish college this year.

One of the conditions of getting a scholarship is returning to your community after finishing college. But no one from his community has ever gone back – until now. He is determined to be the first of his community to return and give back. And he has a girlfriend and an 11-month old son waiting for his return. He will be fine…

Day 2 in El Salvador - the UCA

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Day 2 – Thursday June 16

Slept well – a good 8 hours. Got ready and went downstairs at 7am and moved to the patio with my computer. I figure 1 ½ hours of work before the immersion day begins. I answer some email – uh-oh – a student says they cannot see the homework assignments I set up the day before. I try to check the course website to find out what is going on. The Internet connection is soooo slow and I feel I am back in the 1990’s with a 56K modem. But the assignments are there but I did not set one up correctly for the students to upload their assignments. I fix the assignment on both class websites and email the students the corrections.

We get on the bus at 8:45am and head down the hill to the University of Central America, UCA, pronounced ‘ooka’ by the locals. We go into a nice brick building and I am struck by how pretty it is inside, with an atrium-style courtyard and breezeway. We go into a small classroom that barely fits the 13 of us to watch the documentary Enemies of War.  The film brings to life some of the people and images we read about prior to our trip, and we will meet some of the people interviewed. The film includes the story and struggle of a typical campesino (peasant) and his family who fled the death squads and fought the rebels. Parts of the movie brought tears to my eyes – it was moving and graphic, showing the dead unsanitized as is usually the case back home.

We leave UCA and drive about 35 minutes to a squatters camp called Oscar Romero. There we find a community of 75 families who are trying to make a subsistence living on a few acres of land. We are regaled by several leaders of the community of their tale of woe. Having lost everything in the earthquakes of 2001, over 200 families take over a piece of government land. They hear that the government will help build houses for landowners who lost their homes in the earthquake. But there’s the rub – they lost their homes but did not own the land. So they took over some government land in the hopes of getting help. The story that emerges is one of corrupt government bureaucrats and ever changing requirements. A large cement company is buys an adjacent parcel of land for several dollars, yet the same government agency tells these people that it will cost them over $8000. Evidently, the agency thinks they will never come up with the money, but a foundation helps them and they come up with the money. Surprise, surprise! The land is no longer for sale but is being deeded to another government entity. After years of battles with agencies and government committees, the group, now down to 75 families, buys the land. But their troubles don’t stop there. Now the government is refusing to supply the community with clean drinking water and children die of dysentery and other water-borne diseases.

I leave with a greater understanding of how a nation such as ours that is governed by the rule of law makes life and living so much easier. How do you bring a concept such as the rule of law to entire peoples who have entirely different traditions. Latin American nations such as El Salvador have over 400 years of corruption, brutality, and a division of classes. Might makes right, and I do not have any simple answers…

Day 1 in El Salvador - Settling In

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The hotel is the Alicante. It is like a nice motel – with three stories and built somewhat like a rabbit warren. Stairs go off in different directions and the room numbering system – wait, I am not sure there is a numbering system. The hotel may have undergone various stages of building and when new sections were added, the room numbering continued where it had left off. It is cute and has a very nice courtyard and smallish pool.

Mike, Bob, and I sit in the patio to have lunch. I have a chicken sandwich and try the local Pilsener beer – not bad! Afterward I go to my room and post homework assignments for my classes, and then take a siesta. I had gotten only two hours sleep the night before, and after an hour sleep I wake up groggy. I go downstairs and Mike and I order dinner in the dining room before Bob shows up. We eat hurriedly  and then we head back to the airport in our rented bus to pick up the rest of the group. The first arrivals have just emerged from customs and we greet them. Bats are flying around, eating the insects that are attracted to the bright lights of the terminal. After about 20 minutes, the rest of the group shows up from another flight. We get on the bus and return to the hotel.

We are in the early stages of getting to know one another, so there is small talk on the bus. When we arrive back at the hotel, people check in and there is some amusement over trying to find rooms since there is no relationship to the room number and its location in the hotel. The porter is extremely helpful and brings bags and people to their rooms.  There is only one of him and 10 of us, so after several people give up trying to find their rooms on their own, the porter comes to their rescue.

We gather back in the dining room for sandwiches as the new arrivals have not eaten. I pass on the sandwiches but do indulge in the fries! We are told about the next day’s tentative itinerary, what time to meet in the morning, and then it is off to our rooms. I go back to my room pretty tired and then go to sleep.

Day 1 in El Salvador - Arrival

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Day 1 – Wednesday June 15

Arrived at the San Salvador airport at 11:15am. Went through customs easily and waited for my bags. As always, after seeing lots of bags go by that were not mine, I have a little apprehension that my bag did not make it. But the bag arrives and I leave the terminal.

I see a throng of locals crowding around the barricades that have been put up – they await the arrival of their loved ones. A blast of hot, humid air greets me as I try to find the people who will pick me up. Taxi drivers are shouting at me, trying to get a fare as they see my look of bewilderment. But it is a look that tells of my initial confusion and discomfort of trying to find my way to the front of the terminal. Just as I get to the curb, I hear my name called – Mike  and Bob have just pulled up in Bob’s old, desert yellow Jeep.

I get in and we take the drive back to San Salvador, about a 45 minute trip. We talk the whole way, so I barely see the countryside. I notice a row of roadside stands with huge, neatly stacked piles of coconuts. Most of the drive is like a parkway with trees planted in the median. There are occasional glimpses of houses, but as we near San Salvador, more houses appear. We come to a stop light and there are people selling food and mosquito zappers. Bob tells them gracias and we drive off, arriving at the hotel a couple minutes later.

Don't Cry For Me Argentina: Currency Crises and Financial Integration

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link

*When: May 12, Thu, 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
*Where: MH 230

Title: Don't Cry For Me Argentina: Currency Crises and Financial Integration
This paper examines the impact of monetary policy and exchange rate regimes, and crises, on the country risk of Argentina’s stock market. We employ a time-varying beta model of country risk to infer how Argentina’s country risk was impacted by currency and financial changes as well as financial integration over the period 1980–2008. Argentina represents a unique case study as an emerging market with a long data series that includes multiple exchange rate regimes (floating, fixed, floating), monetary policy regimes (hyperinflation, currency board, rising inflation) along with a significant currency and financial crisis between the fixed to flexible exchange rate regimes. This crisis, which involved a failed currency board, debt repudiation, and financial expropriation, occurs early enough in the dataset for us to investigate its impact on the country risk of Argentina’s stock market. This paper thus provides an opportunity to investigate the economic factors affecting Argentina’s county risk both pre- and post- financial integration and pre- and post-financial crisis. Our results suggest that Argentina’s decision to move to a fixed exchange rate (a currency board) resulted in a significant, and expected, change in the economic variables that determined its country risk. This change is consistent with the timing of full financial integration for Argentina found in Goldberg and Delgado(2001). The later collapse of Argentina’s currency board, with it’s attendant financial crisis, produce a significant reversion in the economic variables impacting Argentina’s country risk. Our results suggest that Argentina’s exchange rate, the main factor pre-financial integration, resurfaces as an important determinant of changing country risk after the currency and financial crisis of 2001. 

Is there more to email negotiation than email? Exploring facets of email affinity

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link

*When: May 3, Tue, 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
*Where: MH 230

Title: Is there more to email negotiation than email? Exploring facets of email affinity

Ever increasing globe-spanning business activity paired with the wide availability of the internet, even in remote places, has at once provoked and provided suitable communication means (e.g., email) for complex business communication and tasks such as negotiation. Current research cautions against the use of email for negotiation as compared to other media because of the numerous challenges e-negotiators face, but the findings are far from unanimous. This study investigates if negotiators’ attitude toward and facility with email as a communication medium, i.e. their email affinity, influences the negotiation process and results. Three facets of email affinity are theoretically considered and empirically derived: email preference, email comfort and email clarity. In an experimental intercontinental email negotiation exercise where subjects were paired according to their email affinity score, email comfort emerged as a significant predictor of individual profit, joint gain, and different dimensions of subjective value. Theoretical implications and further research are discussed.


Location Strategy and Firm Value Creation: The case of Chinese MNEs

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link

*When: April 26, Tue, 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
*Where: CO 317

Title: Location Strategy and Firm Value Creation: The case of Chinese MNEs
The trend of Chinese outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) seems unstoppable. There has been a surge of overseas investment from China both to developing and developed countries. However, we have limited understanding of the impact the internationalization of these firms have on their value creation. In this paper, we draw on organizational learning theory to explore the impact of different types of FDI (i.e, exploitative and explorative FDI) and MNEs’ FDI location choice on firm value creation. Using event study methodology, we find that FDI types affect value creation for Chinese MNEs. In addition, we empirically demonstrate that positive value is created when Chinese MNEs aligned their location choice with international expansion strategy. We contribute to the growing body of literature on internationalization of Chinese firms by empirically verifying whether international expansion creates value for the firm and whether the types of FDI and location strategies have impact on firm value creation. We also contribute to the FDI theory building by extending the traditional FDI theories to the context of emerging market MNEs, namely Chinese MNEs.

Moral Minefields: Understanding Ethical Construction in the US Defense Industry

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link


*When: April 19, Thu, 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
*Where: MH 230

Moral Minefields: Understanding Ethical Construction in the US Defense Industry

Within the realm of organizational ethics, research efforts have largely been directed towards the description and prescription of behaviors which are deemed as “ethically positive”. However, little attention has been given towards understanding how people construct their ethical perspectives (individual and organizational). This paper attempts to transcend the traditional sensemaking paradigm usually applied to social and organizational processes and instead uses an interpretive phenomenological approach towards understanding the psychology of ethical construction. Data from the defence industry highlight how workers separate ethical processes from ethical consequences and in turn, the respective social and professional benefits that come from doing so. Findings have implications for how the field of ethics both frames and communicates the role of psychology in organizational morality and highlights the value of data from samples often perceived as ethically contentious.

Internal project management communication from a strategic perspective

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link

 When: April 07, Thu, 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
Where: MH 230

Line Berggreen Ramsing presents:

Explicit awareness of personal communication competence in project management communication unfolds opportunities to influence key project stakeholders at any given level. Clear and focused personal communication exceeds any IT system and therefore it pays off to invest in good project communication. However, from a project investment perspective companies are focused on IT, performance measurement; project monitoring, project development and project management systems with the purpose of meeting deadlines for delivery and gaining profit. But when deadlines and expectations are not met, when customers are not satisfied, it is a result of poor human communication - not because Excel or any other IT system fails in calculating a given situation.The importance of considering project communication strategically is a well established requirement within project management. Ongoing stakeholder analysis enables the project manager to continuously monitor and consider the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and to some extent the ‘how’ of communication of information to stakeholders. What still remains to be explored is the ‘how’ of personal communication competence.

Trade Dress and The Trademark Trilogy

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link

David Scalise and Lauren Salas

*When: April 14, Thu, 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
*Where: MH 230

  Title: Trade Dress and The Trademark Trilogy
From Concept to Delivery: Dave explains cross-discipline, interview style research, and approaching journals. He’ll also discuss The Trademark Trilogy, stand-alone, thoroughly-researched articles linked by common, topical issues of interest to marketers and managers. Lauren will present on Trademark Trilogies II & III.

Toward a Theory of Workarounds in Organizations

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link

Steven Alter

When: March 29, Tue, 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
Where: MH 230

Title: Toward a Theory of Workarounds in Organizations
The purpose of this colloquium is to help me develop a widely applicable and useful theory of workarounds in organizations. Workarounds occur in all organizations. Workarounds occur when specific technologies do not operate as designed, but they also operate in many other situations, such as when cumbersome processes are too slow, when complete information is not available, when artificially imposed constraints make it difficult to do work, and when people collude to bypass or undermine expectations and regulations from legitimate or illegitimate authorities (principals in agency theory) such as management or government.

Topics to be discussed include:
1) proposed definition of workaround (applicable whether or not IT is involved)
2) proposed types of workarounds
3) permanence/ impermanence of workarounds
4) exploring the nature of workarounds by turning agency theory on its head
5) force field model for explaining workarounds
6) taxonomy of workarounds based on principal/agent concepts
7) evaluating the legitimacy/ illegitimacy of workarounds
8) bringing workarounds into the foreground in typical systems analysis and organizational analysis.

Prevalence of Relative Thinking on the Internet

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link

*When: April 12, Thu, 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
*Where: MH 230

Sweta Thota and Ricardo Villarreal

Title: Prevalence of Relative Thinking on the Internet
Consider the following scenarios: Situation 1: a consumer who is planning the purchase of a 55”3D LED TV priced at $1999 in a store meets a friend in the store who tells her that the same TV is available for a $20 discount at another store located 20 minutes away; Situation 2: a consumer who is planning to purchase a 26” LCD TV for $150 in a store is informed by a friend that the same TV is available for a discounted price of $130 at another located 20 minutes away. Is the consumer in Situation 1 as likely to travel to the other store away as the consumer in Situation 2?

Most consumers might choose to take the additional 20 minute travel effort to save $20 only on the TV priced at $150. The model of rational choice in traditional economic theories advocates that the price difference which guides the extra travel and effort should be the same regardless of the original price of the good because the additional cost of incurring an extra 20 minute travel is the same regardless of the good’s price (Azar 2007). However, consumers behave as though their search costs in terms of time and money increase proportionately to price of the purchase item. Consequently, consumers systematically violate this model and opt to exercise the additional effort only when the saving relative to the price of the original good is higher i.e., when the original price of the good is lower. This phenomenon is called relative thinking.

Past research has shown that relative thinking is instrumental in retailing and pricing areas. Further, given our limited cognitive abilities, individuals utilize several choice heuristics (ingrained into our decision-making system) which often provided reasonably accurate solutions with minimal amount of effort (Todd, 2000). Since it is widely acknowledged that human beings are cognitive misers (Fiske and Taylor 1991), it is not surprising that even with our contemporary and rational decision-making abilities, we still rely on heuristics which could often lead to biased decision outcomes. Relative thinking is a heuristic that leads to a decision bias because a saving of $20 should be equally valuable to a consumer regardless of whether the original price of an item is $50, $100 or $1000. Now consider the above two situations in the context of a consumer considering the purchase of the earlier mentioned 51” TV (priced at $1999) vs. the 26” TV (priced at $150) on the Internet. Is a consumer equally likely to browse other web sites for a twenty dollar saving ? That is, do individuals perceive the attractiveness of saving an ‘x’ amount on a low vs. high priced item similarly across the internet and brick and mortar stores? Specifically, does relative thinking phenomenon hold in the context of internet based search for lower prices?

This paper highlights boundary conditions and hypothesizes and investigates the relative thinking phenomenon in the context of Internet. Results show that the internet sets boundary conditions for the relative thinking phenomenon.


Chrystal Chang Presents

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link


*When: March 1st, Tue, 11:45-12:45
*Where: MH 230

Title: Stumbling Toward Capitalism: The Unexpected Emergence of China’s Independent Auto Industry
In her dissertation, Stumbling Toward Capitalism: The Unexpected Emergence of China’s Independent Auto Industry, Chang analyzes the unintended consequences of China’s experimental policymaking approach through the lens of the auto industry. Specifically, she investigate the origins of China’s independent automakers, many of which are privately-held. The emergence of an independent automobile sector in China is puzzling given the industry’s historically high financial and technological barriers to entry and the Chinese government’s staunch support of state-owned automakers. Chang finds that the emergence of independent automakers was not the direct outcome of national industrial policies, as was the case in Japan and South Korea. Rather, Chang argues that Chinese entrepreneurial automakers indirectly benefited from: 1) the successes and shortcomings of the party-state’s joint venture (JV) policy, 2) China’s accession to the WTO, and 3) the changing nature of production networks in the global auto industry. Her argument stands in stark contrast to that of scholars who largely credit the party-state’s industrial policy for the modernization of China’s auto sector. Chapter 4, presented here, specifically explores the ways in which China’s accession to the WTO and key changes in global production networks opened opportunities for China’s independent automakers to break into the domestic auto market. The of the four leading independent automakers – BYD, Chery, Geely and Great Wall – are presented as case studies to support the argument. Chang will also discuss these auto makers' motives and path for global expansion and challenges facing them ahead.

School of Business & Professional Studies Research Colloquia

(University of San Francisco Research Colloquia) Permanent link
This blog will list the faculty research colloquia at the University of San Francisco's business school.

eTexts and Inkling

(iPad Study) Permanent link
Professor Gini Shimabukuro presented eTextbooks available for the iPad. CourseSmart allows the user to annotate and highlight, just as you would do with a hard copy. Unfortunately, the annotations tend to cover up the text you are reading. This is an improvement over reading the chapters on a computer, as you have some additional functionality (but not much). A step forward (small, but still a step) is the application Inkling with launched in August with eight titles. Inkling texts have graphics which enlarge with the touch, definitions of many words are available as pop-ups, It is another step towards 'interactive' - and the graphics are great. Definitely an improvement over the traditional text, but nowhere near taking advantage of the potential of the iPad.

Using Technology in Education

(Using Technology in Education) Permanent link

This blog is intended to explore how technology could be used in education to promote positive learning outcomes. Too often, new educational technologies are hailed as being better than the classroom experience, only to have rigorous studies show that when curricular materials, teaching methodology, and time on materials are equal, there is no benefit for the educational technology. What is needed is an examination of how technology and the burgeoning processing power of the computer might be harnessed to create something that actually is better than the classroom or 100% online teaching.  Educational technology for the 21st century...

Why an iPad for students?

(iPad Study) Permanent link

So why should a student bother with an iPad? I teach a course called Digital Media in Business and took a survey of the 27 students in my class. Exactly zero owned an iPad! Needless to say, I was a bit surprised, especially since 26 of the 27 students own laptops (I expect them to bring their laptops to class and use them in building a e-portfolio website using the open source software Joomla!)

There have been discussions across the country about having e-texts on the iPad, so that students don't have to carry heavy textbooks. But I would very much like to see research on whether the iPad experience makes the students any more inclined to read the material than they do now. My experience has been that unless you are having the students tested on the material (or will be called on randomly in class to answer questions, or some other pedagogical hook to force them to read the assignment), undergraduate students do not read the chapters assigned when they are asked to do so. Why should that change just because they are using an iPad? We have all had the experience with our undergraduates of having assigned a chapter or case and fewer than half of the students will have read it.

So why an iPad for students?

Here is one application that might be very useful, though I doubt it will become a 'killer app': an app that record the lecture while taking notes. There are several on the market, and the one I have used is SoundNote. These are similar to the LiveScribe application, the pen that has been on the market for years, but the similar functionality is now available for the iPad interface. I have spoken to a graduate student that is taking a course (not mine) and the professor uses 25-40 slides per lecture (Death by PowerPoint!) The professor makes the slides available before class so students can make hard copies of the slides and make notes on them during class. The student I spoke with lists the slides by number on SoundNote, and when the prof gets to that point in the lecture, he marks the slide on SoundNote. That way, when he reviews his notes on the lecture, if there is any slide that he has questions about, he simply taps the slide number on SoundNote and rehears that portion of the lecture.

So why an iPad for students? Still searching...

iPad Tinkering

(iPad Study) Permanent link

Professor Helen Piserchio downloaded 26 iPad apps: 11 productivity/teaching; 9 games/entertainment for kids; 4 news/info; and 2 reading/books. She found several that appealed to children. In the games category, Doodle Buddy kept kids busy for long stretches at a time. Productivity apps included Stickyboard by Qrayon, an app that allows users to post virtual 'sticky' notes and move them around. Looks like a good app for brainstorming and organizing ideas. Another app for brainstorming and organizing is Idea Sketch that links together ideas and uses a hierarchical structure. Idea Sketch allows for notes/comments to be included in the background as pop-ups. Another productivity app was Present Pad, similar to other presentation software seen on computers.

Professor Piserchio looked at Audio Note for recording lectures and taking notes. She also tried out Dragon and had aless than stellar experience with it (still very buggy). I have used SoundNote (previously SoundPaper) and this may be one of the most useful apps for students. These applications allow for the recording of lectures while taking notes. With the old iOS, though, a limitation was that you could not go to any other application while continuing to record, so if the instructor wanted you to look at a pdf, you could not do it on the iPad without changing applications. I will investigate this further with the new iOS that came out last week.



28 days of iPad Reflections

(iPad Study) Permanent link

As part of the university's iPad study, professors meet once a month to discuss on how they use or see the iPad in education. Mathew Mitchel presented his interesting '28 days of iPad Reflections.' He broke down his reflections into five themes: 1) It is intimate; 2) he likes to watch on it; 3) 1024 x 768; 4) Finger Apps; and 5) know your iOS. He created videos that showed how he used the iPad in education and a short tutorial on iTunes for the iPad. Creating videos and having them watched on the iPad is a viscerally different experience than on a computer screen.

Professor Mitchel's videos can be downloaded at:
iPads in Education
iTunes for iPad
iPads and Fingers


Citrix for the iPad

(iPad Study) Permanent link

So the question is: how can I leverage 15 years worth of spreadsheets, database projects, and word processing documents that I have used/edited/updated for my students while using the iPad? Without going through a lot of hoops, I wanted to be able to access via the iPad the resources I had arduously created over the years. A solution presented itself almost immediately: USF runs Citrix which creates a virtual desktop. There is a free Citrix iPad app which I downloaded and I had our ITS staff create a VPN connection for my iPad to allow me to connect to the USF Citrix server. The school is a Microsoft application campus, so most of the applications available are MS-based. The applications include Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, Visio, IE 8, Meeting Maker, and Opera.

I now have access to all of the documents I have put onto the school network and can use the original application in which they were created

AirSketch for the iPad

(iPad Study) Permanent link

Another interesting iPad application is AirSketch from qrayon. This application allows you to mirror to a web browser on a computer running on the same Wi-Fi network what you are drawing on the iPad. The computer can be projecting the web page onto a screen for students to watch. Initially I did not see much value in having college students in a classroom watch me draw squiggles on a sketch pad. However, AirSketch allows you to have pictures as background images which can be written upon. Aha! I have often shown in my classroom pages out of a textbook – tables, charts, worked-out examples, etc. I have used document cameras and marked the documents up for the class. I have converted documents to pdf’s and used Adobe Acrobat to view them and the clunky mouse interface to annotate and mark up pdf’s for students watching on the big screen. But now I can convert those documents to a jpg, put them into a picture folder on the iPad, easily pull up the picture as my wallpaper, and draw on it. I am now untethered to the lectern! As long as there is a Wi-Fi network to connect the iPad and computer, I can walk around the classroom, demonstrate to individual students while carrying my iPad, and using a stylus (or my finger) draw on the relevant diagram, chart, or whatever else I care to show students, while my markings show up for everyone to see. This program can also be used for students using the iPad for group work to share their creations with the rest of the class on the big screen.

iAnnotate for the iPad

(iPad Study) Permanent link

There are several iPad applications which I have found productive to use. One is called iAnnotate which allows the user to annotate on pdf’s. I have used this program to make comments on exams and papers, and then emailed the marked up pdf back to the students. What is nice about this program on the iPad is not that it does anything that could not be done before (Adobe Acrobat allowed annotations and comments), but the iPad works like a very portable tablet PC, and this application lends itself to the iPad interface. You can use a stylus or the keyboard to make notes and comments. The iPad is combining the concept of the tablet PC with the desktop or laptop computer and putting it into a small, very personal package. iAnnotate takes advantage of that interface. The touch screen interface of the iPad is also a key feature for this application – you can zoom into an area of the document, write your notes, and then zoom out and the comments can be the same size as the text. You can even write between the lines if the students haven’t double spaced the document.

University of San Francisco iPad Study

(iPad Study) Permanent link

I am part of the University of San Francisco’s iPad study. 40 faculty members have been given the basic iPad (no 3G, 16 GB) and are trying to figure how to use the device in an educational setting. In my role as Director of Technology Innovation for the School of Business and Professional Studies, I am examining the iPad with an eye not only towards productivity gains for both faculty and students, but to see if the iPad can actually improve student learning outcomes.

New Course for Undergraduates

 Permanent link

I will be teaching a new course for undergraduates during the fall 2010 semester called Digital Media for Business. The course will take students on a journey of technological exploration, from setting up a website that incorporates many Web 2.0 tools, to a greater understanding of how to market their ideas and companies.

Let the Blog Begin

 Permanent link

This blog is designed to be a portal for people into the courses that I teach, the research that I am conducting, and the thoughts and insights I have in our educational system. The courses I am teaching in the fall semester 2010 include Digital Media in Business and Telecommunications. I will update the site to include other courses I teach on a regular basis, including Systems in Organizations and Quantitative Business Analysis.

The research I am conducting is in the area of using technology to enhance learning outcomes of students – specifically blended learning which is a mixture of both the traditional face-to-face classroom experience and online material. I expect this blog will discuss my educational values and what I perceive as being broken with our educational system. I am supportive of radically ever changing the learning environment and how we educate our students. Let the blog begin…