Professor Christian Felzensztein, PhD
Reh Family Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership &
Co-Director Reh Center for Entrepreneurship
Clarkson University, NY
Question: What are your key areas of research? What are you researching now?
Professor Christian Felzensztein: OK, thank you very much, Ricardo, for this interview, and I have two or three well-established research areas. One is, of course, international entrepreneurship, in which we are looking at how small firms are internationalized worldwide. The scope of internationalization, and especially we are working with international entrepreneurship in emerging economies. Different emerging economies in the Middle East, Asia, and of course, Latin America. One of the key outcomes of this new research will be a book on international entrepreneurship research that we plan to publish next year in 2023 with Edward Elgar Publishing in the UK. We are working with a colleague from the Tec de Monterey, Sascha Furst, on that book, and we have received about 15 high-quality chapters from around the world, and we are in the review process on that. Second, it’s about Entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation. So how entrepreneurship can be an effective vehicle for poverty alleviation in emerging economies, we are doing a lot of comparative studies between countries, for example, in Mexico, Cuba, and Central America with small family firms and small family entrepreneurs doing business in rural areas under poverty conditions. We look at how governance at national levels and regional government help overcome all the social and market problems these micro-entrepreneurs face under poverty conditions. And third, we are collaborating with colleagues in Canada of University Ottawa and other colleagues from around the world on the issues of coopetition among small firms; for example, in the wine industry and other globalized industries, are they really cooperating and competing at the same time, and which are the specific areas in which cooperation can be possible for a sustainable competitive advantage of small firms.
Question: Can you tell us a bit more about your research on entrepreneurship and poverty?
Professor Christian Felzensztein: Yes, in that area we are also talking and doing different studies with indigenous communities in different countries of Latin America, including Peru, Central America, and Mexico, because sometimes indigenous people are these subjects that suffer poverty; in India, most people also suffer other issues, for example, more lack of resources than non-indigenous populations in different countries of Latin America, so we are really hoping to make an impact on the livelihood of that people that regions and helping governments to make responsible.
Question: What is the most challenging issue in doing international entrepreneurship research?
Professor Christian Felzensztein: I would say that culture is one key issue that you see. Sometimes you think you have the same problem, for example, in countries like Australia and New Zealand compared to emerging economies of Latin America. And again, different emerging economies of Latin America behave very differently, so when we are talking to different entrepreneurs that want to reach global markets, we see that they face different contexts, and contexts really matter in international businesses and international entrepreneurship research. So the national, regional, and political contexts are crucial to understanding. Also, having local partners researching each context because if you don’t know the context, you cannot approach and talk to entrepreneurs in different countries successfully.
Question: How do you see the field, International entrepreneurship in Latin America?
Professor Christian Felzensztein: Latin America is growing, and it’s growing very fast, not all the countries are growing as fast as Mexico, for example, and you can see now other regions in Mexico, not only Mexico City, that are growing in terms of innovation and in terms of internationalization and support to international entrepreneurship activities. One of them is the case of Guadalajara, which is growing very fast in innovation and attraction of multinational firms to the region but also helping International entrepreneurs go to international markets. So I think this is a good example of how successful international entrepreneurship activities. Attracting investment and taking investment out is happening in the region. But, of course, other countries are facing different problems and different success speeds; for example, Chile used to implement entrepreneurial policies for new companies successfully. And now because of the context, the political context, is lagging behind other emerging economies in Latin America, and of course around the world.
Question: Now moving to a more personal field. What are a few of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Professor Christian Felzensztein: I spend a lot of time with my young family, including my wife and my daughter, who is now ten years old. So a lot of walk-ins around nature are happening here in the North Country we are very close to the border with Canada. We often go to Montreal and Ottawa to experience the large city life. But we work a lot in the country and beautiful countryside in the North. Apart from that, I’m a fan of contemporary art and collect contemporary art coming from Latin America; my wife is an artist, so many artists from Cuba are around our home. We enjoy also supporting younger people—for example, the Latin American Students Association here at Clarkson University. We are very much involved with them and helping them to succeed in this working environment and global marketplace. So this is what we like.
Question: Where will we see you next?
Professor Christian Felzensztein: Apart from the several meetings in some US universities and of course Ottawa across the border, my next big conference will be BALAS in Mexico City, I really hope to attend in person, to share with my colleagues part of this new research, also the new book that we hope to publish by that time in 2023.