It rains in Santiago

news: It rains in Santiago

THIRTY YEARS before the 9/11 in New York, there was also a 9/11 in Santiago de Chile: “It rains in Santiago” was the password for the military coup of Pinochet.

He left a double legacy: within the scope of Human Rights and economics. With regard to the latter, there were high GDP growth rates, starting in the ‘80s and reaching an average of seven per cent in the ‘90s. This led Chile to duplicate its GDP every 10 years.

This economic miracle was the result of the neo-liberal policy of the so-called Chicago Boys, the graduates of the Catholic University of Chile, who, under a student exchange programme, graduated with Hardberger and Friedman in the University of Chicago.

Recently, however, the Chilean economy has slowed down rates of two per cent. One reason was the worldwide slowdown, the others were internal – exports of low added value products (copper and fish preserves) and a business community lacking in initiative but abundant in parochialism. Both a result of lack of work ethic and a marginal location.

Part of the answer to put the economy moving again came from the Chilean universities. Supported by agreements with the EU and the US, they offer MBAs and Executive MBAs with a strong international specialisation, and an emphasis on the opportunities that globalisation offer and the techniques to serve them.

The international aspect of university programmes is reinforced by six other factors:

1) Foreign students (in the University of Chile)

2) Students sent abroad (to Chicago and the Rotterdam School of Management)

3) Foreign teachers (in Catholic University)

4)Joint teaching programmes (with Tulane University and Babson College in Boston)

5) Joint ventures in research (with Thunderbird and several Australian Universities)

6) Efforts to attract foreign universities into Chile (Instituto de Directivos of Madrid, for example)

The aim is both of leading Chile to globalisation and bringing globalisation into Chile. Both to open up minds, to stimulate creativity and to supply the required management techniques.

Indeed, globalisation is both a source of risks and opportunities, and, in general, the two come together. What makes some men different from others is that some see risks in opportunities, while others see opportunities in risks. And what one sees depends upon the mind that one has.

And, in the 21st century, more important than who produces what, is who has which ideas, who contributes to innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity. “Mindfacture” instead of “Manufacture”.

So, in order to maintain the past economical miracle, Chile bets on business quality based on a deep transformation of the university teaching. A good example to other countries…

Eminent economist Dr Jorge A Vasconcellos e Sá, covers a range of issues, from global business to Portuguese commerce. Dr Vasconcellos e Sá has a PhD from Columbia University and is the Jean Monnet Professor at the University of Lisbon. He also writes for Portugal’s Diário Económico and Expansion, the largest financial newspaper in Spain.