Chair of Management & Chair for International Management hold their second conference on “Success in Emerging Markets”

For the second year in a row, the Chair of Management and the Chair for International Management jointly organised the conference “Success in Emerging Markets” (some insights and photos can be seen on This was made possible by an agreement with Sika AG under which the company promotes research and teaching on emerging markets at the University of Fribourg.

The conference gave its participants, composed of students as well as managers coming from companies and the public administration, valuable insights into doing business in emerging markets. Emerging markets are with increasing frequency seen as new potential markets for Swiss companies looking to grow their business outside of the relatively saturated domestic market. Whilst the potential opportunities in emerging markets may be high, it is difficult for managers to understand if, when and how to enter an emerging market with their company. The conference set out to shed light on these questions by including presentations from practitioners which are successful in emerging markets with their companies.


Dr. Veit Wagner (REHAU), Francis Maechling (Liebherr Mining) and Béatrice Lombard-Martin (Swiss-Russian Forum) (from right to left) at the Panel Discussion

Prof Dr. Rudolf Grünig, Chair of Management, first offered some opening words before handing over to his colleague, Prof Dr. Dirk Morschett, who gave an overview of research into management in emerging markets. After defining emerging markets and discussing some key research findings, he presented some examples of Swiss companies that have been successful in emerging markets.

Dr. Veit Wagner, Vice President of the REHAU Group, showed how the diversified company is active in numerous emerging markets since its entry into Brazil in 1976. Dr. Wagner illustrated how the REHAU Group is capitalizing on rapid urbanization in emerging markets. For instance, the company is selling polymer third rail solutions for suburban train networks in Turkey, Indonesia and India to help cope with rapidly growing populations in urban centres.

Ms. Béatrice Lombard-Martin, Co-President of the Swiss-Russian Forum, took on a cultural perspective in her presentation and discussed what makes Russia unique as place for doing business. An example includes the Russians’ tolerance for difficult times and openness towards making the most of it. In addition to this, she demonstrated the importance of geopolitics, and in particular, how these can affect the flow of goods and the mechanics of trade. She gave interesting insights into the mindset of Russians.

In the second half of the conference, Francis Maechling, CFO of Liebherr Mining, offered an overview of the company’s activities in emerging markets and discussed some of the challenges encountered there. These include high currency volatility, the difficulty to obtain financing locally in emerging markets and constrained availability of adequately educated labour. This presentation also showed that the recommendations for successful activities in Emerging Markets depend on the particularties of each company. The huge machines of Liebherr Mining which are, however, sold in rather small numbers to each specific customer, are manufactured in a rather centralised manner; however, local service is of major importance for the uptime of the machines.

To conclude the conference, a podium discussion moderated by Prof Dr. Grünig titled “Opportunities and Challenges in Emerging Markets” was held. The speakers addressed questions from the audience and further discussed their perspectives on doing business in emerging markets.

For the two chairs involved, it is clear that the conference will be repeated next year because it is important that the future managers that study at the university and current managers alike understand the particularities of doing business in emerging markets.

Panel discussion “Opportunities and Challenges in Emerging Markets” moderated by Prof Dr. Rudolf Grünig (not pictured). The participants included (from left to right): Prof Dr. Dirk Morschett (Chair for International Management), Béatrice Lombard-Martin (Co-President, Swiss Russian Forum), Francis Maechling (CFO, Liebherr Mining) and Dr. Veit Wagner (Vice President of the Board, REHAU Group).

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