March 13, 2015 | By Jake Weber
Greg Saltzman, E. Maynard Aris professor in economics and management, was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant for spring 2015 and is currently a faculty visitor at the Hanyang University School of Business in Seoul, South Korea. He is teaching a course on negotiation and conflict resolution in the global MBA program and a course on labor-management relations to seniors in the undergraduate business program.
Saltzman cited a number of reasons he was interested in the opportunity to work in South Korea. First, it went from being "an impoverished country at the end of the Korean War in 1953 to an economic powerhouse today. Also, the U.S.-Korean free trade agreement is likely to increase the number of economic ties between our two countries," he said. Lastly, "labor unions played a key role in the 1980s in overthrowing a military dictatorship, and I want to see how the unions have adapted to their new role improving wages and employment conditions."
Saltzman used a previous Fulbright grant in 2008 to teach in the human resource management department of the business school at Jilin University in China. His experience there demonstrated some surprising differences in U.S. and Chinese labor unions. "I interviewed one of the top leaders in Jilin Province of the All China Federation of Trade Unions," Saltzman said. "That person put a much higher priority on attracting foreign investment than on protecting the interests of workers who belonged to the union."
This spring, Saltzman hopes to learn how South Korean labor unions have made the transition from their very political role in the 1980s to their workplace-focused role today. He plans to incorporate his new knowledge about Korea into his Albion courses when he returns to the College in fall 2015.