Thursday, March 22, 2012

Being a Globalist but Not Homesick and Migration Networks

I am now completing my second week as a Visiting Professor of Operations Management at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and I have been writing about my experiences in this blog.

I will continue to return to this wonderful city during my sabbatical from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst over the next year.

While in Gothenburg, I have learned a lot about academic traditions, including departmental ones, which include, in our transport and logistics group with a few finance colleagues as well, the following:
  • a basket of fresh fruit arrives on Tuesdays,
  • pea soup and pancakes (a national dish) are served in the cafeteria every Thursday (I sampled this delicious combination last week),
  • on Thursdays at 3PM there are some sweet treats that everyone gathers to consume,
  • when someone gets a paper published there is a cake to celebrate, and
  • when the weather is warm and sunny (as it has been on many days since my arrival) faculty like to meet and have coffee on the veranda outside our departmental offices.
I have also been a visiting faculty member at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden and at the SOWI Business School in Innsbruck, Austria and have spent weeks at a time in Umea, Sweden and in Catania, Italy, as well as in Bellagio, Italy. at the Rockefeller Foundation Center there. Sometimes I had my family with me and sometimes not.

As an academic, I definitely feel as though I am bicontinental.

Susan J. Matt wrote an interesting OpEd piece, The New Globalist is Homesick, in The New York Times, which I found to be provocative. However, I don´t fully agree with some of the points that she made. I think that whether or not homesickness becomes a part of your global travel and living abroad experiences depends very much on your sense of adventure and willingness to explore, as well as on your ability to establish some set of routines and traditions. Of course, it also depends on whether you are alone (or not) and for what length of time you are in another country.

I was born in Canada to Ukrainian immigrants/refugees so I have not lived in the same country all of my life.

In reading Matt's OpEd, I was reminded of research that we had done on migration networks, in which we included explicitly the costs associated with migration. We had published a series of models in economics and operations research journals and I had also included a chapter on migration networks in my Network Economics book. More recently, along with Dr. Christian Mullon of France, we have been using such ideas to explain the concentration of predators and prey in ocean systems.

Then again, I know that, unlike certain migrants, I can go home again.