LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 42, No.3 - Fall 1996
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
Copyright © 1996 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
BUSINESS EDUCATION AT THE FACULTY OF ADMINISTRATION
OF THE KAUNAS UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY
S. H. BAČKAITIS, Chairman,
U. S. Advisory Council for the Faculty of Administration
Kaunas University of Technology
The collapse of the Soviet empire at the end of the 1980s left Lithuania's economy in virtual chaos and essentially without an infrastructure. As the command economy stopped functioning, and a new economic system has not yet emerged, the just born country found itself aimlessly drifting and desperately searching for direction. It began to experience convulsive social upheavals, disruptions and challenges to every segment of life from personal, to business, to education, and to all other activities. It became evident that the emerging system would eventually become a free market economy. The new system would need different organizers and leaders with an understanding of how the market economy functioned and who could help the country to formulate a functioning business environment. However, 50 years of Soviet occupation and its educational system that focused on a state command economy, left the country with people who had either a warped understanding of what the free market system was all about or were totally unsuited to deal with the new realities. At that time, the government of the newly reborn Lithuania saw that the transition to a market economy would be extremely difficult without appropriately trained and experienced people. Yet, the existing educational system was neither equipped nor prepared to offer suitable education and training. The government felt a crash program was needed in Lithuania's educational system that would enable people to acquire skills for setting-up and operating business enterprises, creating the necessary infrastructures, and thus easing the country's transition to the free market economy. At the time, it asked the Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) to formulate for this purpose an appropriate educational program and begin its implementation. In turn, the KTU rectorate selected Dr. Viktorija Barđauskienë to lead in this effort.
A Happy Coincidence
I learned about these facts during my visit in Kaunas in early 1991. As I was walking throughout the hallways of the main administration building of the KTU looking for typing assistance, I met by pure coincidence a rather youngish looking vice dean of the newly formed Faculty of Administration at KTU. Upon receiving the needed assistance, I engaged him in a longer conversation. He told me that the Faculty, having just a few months ago been voted into existence by the university senate had a huge challenge before it — to prepare itself and its students to serve the needs of emerging and future business while the country was undergoing a massive social, economic and political transformation. He noted that to serve these needs, the educational system of higher learning would also have to undergo considerable reformation. There would be reduced emphasis, at least temporarily, on science and technology and considerably more focus on new subjects such as market economy, management of free enterprises, administration of organizations, services and entrepreneurship.
In this conversation I also learned that the all pervasive Soviet educational system, which has dominated and dictated all facets of people's lives, had been structured to discourage women from pursuing professional careers particularly in engineering and sciences. This was in spite of the fact that females graduating from Lithuania's secondary schools greatly outnumbered and scholastically out achieved their male counterparts. However, the opposite was true in university enrolments. To make use of this untapped talent, the Lithuanian government encouraged the Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) to initiate programs that would provide opportunities for secondary school female graduates to enter the university educational system. It was hoped that through completion of degree programs, it would be easier for them to enter professions, particularly in management, as computer specialists, administrative assistants, etc.
Upon returning to the U. S., I discussed with several knowledgeable people in administration and business management fields the formation and purposes of this new Faculty. We all thought, the university took on a very big but an urgently needed task to launch an educational program in business administration in which it had virtually no experience. We also felt that it made a wise decision in providing the young secondary school female graduates with an opportunity to obtain university level education and professional skills in these fields. However, upon review of the Faculty's initial curriculum, we were concerned, that it was aimed at preparing the graduates for skills at the submanagement level rather than for positions of leadership. This notion seemed to be flawed and it did not take into account that stifling the development of the most intelligent segment of the population would be a waste of superb talent and loss of their potential contribution to Lithuania's economic, cultural and political development.
Tying The Knot
I wrote a letter to Dr. Barđauskienë, the dean of the Faculty, on February 18, 1992 *, suggesting that while the aims and purposes of the Faculty were commendable, they were not quite commensurate with what the university should be offering. I suggested that the Faculty should reach considerably beyond its current goals. It should aim toward the establishment of a genuine school of business administration in order to provide Lithuania with well skilled and educated people to run its businesses and manage the economy. Furthermore, if the dean desired, we in the west could assist with advice formulated by a group of knowledgeable people from academia, business, industry and other institutions. Such advice, for example, could be in the form of comments on their curriculum, acquainting the faculty with methods, procedures and business practices used in private and public sectors in the west, helping to obtain pertinent teaching literature and supporting materials, and possibly providing information on the art in business communications and automated data processing. I further suggested, that if a more formal and longer term relationship be desired, the university may consider granting this group in the west some kind of official status, such as the Advisory Council (AC). The AC would have to be regularly advised and solicited for comments on Faculty plans and intended curriculum changes, invited to participate as observers at Faculty meetings, as reviewers of teaching methods, as official guests at university's official functions, etc.
Dean Barđauskienë, upon receiving this proposal, replied immediately by fax accepting it in its entirety and asking the author to form an Advisory Council. The rector of the university sent a letter on May 20, 1992, announcing the incorporation of the AC into the structure of the Faculty and delegating powers to the AC to act on its behalf within North America.
The next several months were used to solicit and select qualified members to the AC. Its initial roster was made up of 18 members from the American and Canadian Lithuanian Communities. The membership included seven university professors, five business owners and six business consultants and/or administrators of significant business enterprises. Inasmuch as the Advisory Council was widely dispersed throughout the North American continent, it was agreed that most of our business transactions would be conducted by correspondence.
The first correspondence form the AC to the Faculty suggested that the Faculty formulate a mission statement and publish a booklet that would describe the nature and purposes of the Faculty, its current structure and composition, how it functions as a teaching entity, and what it wants to become in the future. The AC also suggested that the Faculty should aim for the development of managers and leaders in business, commerce and industry rather than training management, administrative or service assistants, and be open to all qualified applicants. Furthermore, it was hinted that courses dealing with home economics and secretarial services should not be included in the curriculum. It was suggested that the curriculum be expanded by at least 12 new courses related to business management and administration, communications with heavy emphasis in English language skills, statistics, finance, western methods of business computing, planning of business operations, etc.
After several exchanges of correspondence, the Faculty identified in a letter of April 2, 1992 , its short and intermediate range goals. They contained the following highlights:
1. To organize studies in business administration that meet western accreditation standards leading towards a recognized baccalaureate degree,
2. to establish within the Faculty the Department of Business Administration,
3. to create a system of trilateral agreements that would assure the students during their studies practical business experience through part time and / or full time employment leading toward managerial positions upon graduation,
4. to establish a methodological resource laboratory in which the faculty and students could find for their studies the most recent text books and literature and opportunities to work with business and date processing related equipment,
5. to conceptualize an MBA curriculum and its implementation plan and suggest methods for assessing the teaching staff capabilities and means for improvement,
6. to prepare a two year curriculum for a master's degree in education, and
7. to establish a Women Studies Center within the Faculty structure.
The AC was asked to take on the following tasks:
1. To help prepare study plans and a BBA curriculum and to review and comment on the curriculum currently offered by the Faculty,
2. to facilitate the establishment of ties with U. S. based business schools,
3. to facilitate securing humanitarian aid in the form of text books, teaching manuals, instructional aids, computers, etc.,
4. to help organize cooperative study programs,
5. to provide advice and counsel on the management and operation of the Faculty,
6. to conceptualize master's degree programs in business administration and education,
7. to obtain information on how business and management topics are being taught in the U. S. at the secondary school level.
Upon several rounds of correspondence, the AC notified the Faculty on July 19, 1992  of its agreement to take on the following tasks:
1. Draft a model business administration curriculum at the baccalaureate level,
2. to conceptualize an exemplary MBA program, identifying its mission, purposes, and goals, •
3. to provide at least one text book for each of the subjects being taught in the BBA program,
4. to provide catalogs and other promotional materials from U. S. Business Schools,
5. to obtain audio and possibly video cassettes of business courses given in the U. S.,
6. to contact area universities for purposes of establishing working ties with the Faculty,
7. to seek financial support, computing equipment, and teaching aids,
8. to publicize the work of the Faculty in U. S. and Canadian Lithuanian Communities,
9. to establish educational stipends for support of high caliber students in financial distress.
Recognizing the need for rapid reformation of the Faculty's business curriculum, the AC immediately undertook the task of compiling the information and data needed to conceptualize a model BBA curriculum. In a letter of November 22, 1992 , the AC submitted to the Faculty a proposal for a business administration baccalaureate that was based on the curricula of six leading U. S. Business schools offering BBA degrees. The proposal recommended extensive modification of the Faculty's current curriculum by including a heavy schedule of English and business communication, mandating the mastery of one other European language, courses in business computing, management and marketing, organizational and human behavior, international trade, environmental issues, etc. The proposed BBA curriculum would require students to earn at least 144 credit hours and suggested that the degree program be without any particular specialization. However, students should be allowed to select a major in the general areas of administration, management, finance, marketing, computers and data processing, communications, and services, and be allowed to earn limited credit for work experience in the area of specialization.
In the interim, the AC began the rapid collection of appropriate text books and their transition to the Faculty. Over 500 textbooks and dozens of computer programs as well as audio training cassettes were sent to the Faculty between 1992 and 1995. Of particular significance were some 100+ text books donated by the Houghton Mifflin Co.  in 1993 and nearly 200 books by CSC Index Corp. in 1995. These text books covered nearly every conceivable subject that could be offered by the Faculty at undergraduate and graduate levels.
Seeing that the Faculty was having difficulty with the English language, the AC undertook the task of structuring and composing an English language information booklet about the Faculty. The first edition was completed in February 1993 and 100 copies were provided to the Faculty for its use. The second updated edition of the booklet was published by the faculty itself in 1994.
As desired by the Faculty, a number of AC members from the U. S. and Canada began active participation as visiting lecturers on subjects such as human resources, marketing, transitional economics, strategic management, communications, etc. In 1993, the AC also started active contacts with business schools of several U. S. based universities seeking to establish academic and working ties with the Faculty. Such contacts, while not an overwhelming success, resulted in nearly a dozen lecturers from U. S. business schools delivering seminars and also teaching regular classes at the Faculty in business management, communication sciences, marketing, and public administration.
In line with AC objectives, a scholarship fund was established  to provide support for those students who excelled in their scholastic achievement but would not be able to continue their studies because of financial difficulties. Students, whose parents were deported from Lithuania during the Soviet years and / or imprisoned or destroyed as enemies of the communist regime were to be given preference. In 1993, the AC awarded from its member contributions the first five $100 scholarships. Seven scholarships were awarded each in 1994 and 1995. In addition, the chairman of the" AC established in 1993 an annual $150 prize for the best the paper or thesis written by senior BBA or MBA students.
Structuring the MBA Program
Having settled the BBA curriculum question, the AC undertook the task of reviewing the general profile of U. S. and Canadian MBA programs and their accreditation requirements. It also asked the Faculty for information on Lithuania's foreseeable needs in its transition from command to market economy. Various teaching methods were examined and weighed for their suitability to convey the required knowledge and meet the needs of business. In this process, the AC considered courses that would prepare future leaders to guide Lithuania toward economic stability, foster the development of individuals with creative ideas and develop managers capable of revitalizing aimlessly drifting enterprises and confronting change and new challenges with creative vision. A draft outline of an MBA program meeting such objectives was submitted to the Faculty for review on August 9, 1993 . Shortly thereafter on October 15, 1993 , the AC proposed in corroboration with the U. S. Baltic Foundation (USBF) a master's degree program in Public Administration (PA).
In a letter of November 8, 1993 , the AC was notified that the KTU senate approved the establishment of MBA, MPA and Education master degree programs, the letter also noted, that a survey conducted by the faculty indicated a foreseeable need for MBA graduates specializing in finance, accounting, marketing, business education and business law. One of the biggest concerns, the dean noted, is an acute shortage of qualified instructors, particularly for the MBA program. The dean agreed with the AC suggestion, that the best and most sensible approach to remedy the situation in the near future is to attempt to upgrade the Faculty's own younger teaching staff members through studies of specific subjects at the graduate level in either North America or in Europe. Their training, in the long run, would be less expensive and more effective, than obtaining teaching services form transient professors, a process fraught with a great degree of uncertainty and course work not necessarily of consistent quantity and quality.
To obtain financial support for the above projects, applications were submitted to the American Lithuanian Foundation and the Lithuanian National Foundation . Unfortunately, neither of the Foundations appeared to understand the criticality and benefits of having qualified teachers for the training of Lithuania's future managers and leaders. Fortunately, two of the Faculty instructors were provided opportunity for training in the U. S. through the assistance of the USBF in 1994, and one under the sponsorship of US AID in 1995. Three other Faculty professors came for extended studies to the U. S. in 1995 under the U. S. Fulbright scholarship program. A similar number of the Faculty teaching staff were engaged in short term upgrade studies at several universities in Europe.
One of the highlights of AC-Faculty cooperation was the visit by dean Barđauskienë to the U. S. in April, 1994. The AC arranged a month long study tour of universities and business enterprises in geographical areas in which its members reside. The itinerary  included visits to local universities, discussions with deans of business schools, attendance of university classroom lectures, meetings with business and community organizations, etc.
On March 25, 1994, the AC presented its concept, curriculum and description of an ideal two-year MBA program , specifically tailored to meet Lithuania's needs. This concept reflected almost a year long study and discussion within the AC on what Lithuania might require in management as it emerges from a command economic system into an economy free of government restraints and as a member of the European Community.
Expanding Interests and Model of Cooperation
Cooperation between the Faculty and the AC is continuously expanding in scope and in variety of activities. For example, in order to increase public interest and to build support in the American-Lithuanian community, several members of the AC published articles about the Faculty and its activities in the American-Lithuanian press. Similarly, the AC arranged for the publication of several articles written by the Faculty staff. As activities of the Faculty expanded into other academic areas, the AC is being asked to provide preliminary assessments and to establish appropriate connections with other academic communities or common interest groups. For example, the newly formed Faculty's Business Management Center was linked with a State Chamber of Commerce for the conduct of seminars on the formation and operation of small business enterprises. In another instance, the AC was asked to help formulate seminars and find instructors on international law , valuation sciences , and action strategies.
Cooperation between the Faculty and the AC could be considered exemplary. The working relationship is built on trust, openness, and attempts to understand each other's positions. Over the five year span nearly 300 letters, memos, faxes, and telephone messages were exchanged. Communications from the start have been sincere, prompt and to the point. Several AC members visit the Faculty each year. They attend the Faculty's staff meetings, participate in the proceedings in which graduating students defend their diplomas, review and help evaluate the effectiveness of individual programs, assist in the English language student summer camp and also partake in the commencement exercises and other university functions.
Although it is difficult to assess the impact of the AC contribution toward the development of the Faculty, be it in the form of teaching materials, providing guidance, or rendering moral support on certain issues, the members of the AC feel very fortunate and privileged to have been invited to participate in this process. The AC enjoys this unique opportunity of helping to structure and develop an academic institution which we are convinced will in the foreseeable future play a significant part in shaping Lithuania's economic future.
The Profile of the Faculty of Administration
It is well known by now that the Faculty has become a significant player in Lithuania's academic world. Within four years it has become one of the largest faculties within the Kaunas University of Technology. Its 1995 enrollment exceeds 1200 students. It has over 700 full-time students in the BBA program, 150 graduate students seeking professional degrees in MBA, MPA, and Education programs, and nearly 500 part-time students in Women's Studies. In 1994, 890 applicants competed for admission to 125 available slots in the BBA program. Of the secondary school applicants, 173 were national top scholastic competition winners (equivalent to National Merit Scholars) out of a total of 476 winners in all of Lithuania.
The students are admitted for studies based on SAT scores, secondary school scholastic achievement records, and demonstrated ability to do college level studies in English with TOEFEL scores not less than 550 (lectures by nearly all visiting professors are conducted in English without translation). The freshman class in 1994 had an average SAT score of 1280. Students for graduate studies are admitted on the basis of SAT scores, their undergraduate scholastic record, work experience, TOEFEL score of 600 minimum, and assessment during the admission interview regarding the applicant's motivation and readiness to do graduate level work. It is to be noted that several of the Faculty's graduate students were successful winners of scholarships for continuation of studies at Oxford, Cambridge, and several U. S. universities under the Fulbright scholarship program.
The Faculty of Administration is somewhat unique as a teaching entity not only within the Kaunas University of Technology, but also among the other established Lithuanian universities. Inasmuch as it was created in 1990 as a new faculty, it is not burdened with institutional inertia, „entrenched" teaching staff, and ingrained teaching methods and management concepts from the pre-independence era. As a matter of fact, at the time the Faculty was formed, the concept of a business school was detested and "looked down" upon by most of Lithuania's academic bodies, particularly those related to economic and industrial management studies. Accordingly, the Faculty attracted mostly young and "desirous of change" teaching staff who were eager to break away form the existing system and learn absorb western business concepts and operating methods. The average age of the 56 teaching staff members is 39, and while most are graduates of the Soviet university system, nearly all of them have had some academic exposure to western business and economic concepts and teaching methods. The help that the Faculty's teaching staff has been receiving from visiting professors from western countries has been of great significance. Over the last three years the faculty has had the benefit of at least three semi-resident full-time professors from the United States, and additional three to four professors spent a semester at a time on a rotating basis. This allows local lecturers to work side by side in the classroom with the visitor. Together, they plan and prepare lectures and instructional materials. This process provides the local instructor the opportunity to obtain insight into new teaching techniques and observe instructor to student relationships.
Nearly all third and fourth year BBA and all MBA and MPA students participate in work study programs with area business, commercial, industrial, financial and governmental entities. Most employers engage the students in a broad spectrum of research studies, such as the development of business and marketing plans, financial accountability systems, determining customer preferences, optimization of product selection for maximum profitability, development of statistical process control, creation of joint ventures, and numerous others. Much of this work requires the sponsoring faculty member to expend substantial time for monitoring and overview, which tends to overload their already extremely heavy classroom schedules. Most faculty members carry a teaching load of 24 to 30 lecture hours per week. The country as a whole is in deep financial crisis and support for education is not a high priority issue. It should also be noted that none of Lithuania's universities are fully independent of government controls. The government controls not only the budgets of every university, but limits the number of teaching positions and the levels of professorial compensation, which is pitifully low. In view of shrinking budgets, prospects for reduced teaching loads for the Faculty's staff are not very promising.
In spite of these problems, most members of the teaching staff within each department of the Faculty are conducting considerable research studies that provide depth and better understanding of the subject matter in their areas of specialization. Besides being of interest to the business and financial communities, such research material facilitates the development of case studies for classroom discussions and further analysis, team research rather than individual studies predominates, since most projects are extensive in scope and require the pooling of talent from various disciplines. For example, the research project "Formation of Business and Service Infrastructures and Strategies for Their Further Development" involves one full professor, four docents, and three assistant professors. Another multi-year research study dealing with "Assessment of Operations of financial institutions and Effectiveness of the Investment Credits System" is being conducted by three docents and three assistant professors . As certain portions of the project are completed, they are published as reports, monographs or papers either at relevant national and international conferences or as articles in scientific and trade journals.
While the university and the Faculty experience extremely serious financial shortages, the Faculty does receive some assistance from several academic institutions of neighboring countries, particularly Norway. Their contribution over the past several years included exchanges of faculty members, support for setting up a business management center, and assistance in the completion of the methodological resource laboratory. The laboratory is now open for faculty and student use with over 5000 books (mostly in English) related to subjects being taught at the Faculty, at least 20 personal computers that are tied into the university's LITNET computer network, several printers, video and audio tape capabilities, and 12 workstations with access to a worldwide E-mail network that is supported by the Open Society Fund.
Recognition by the European Community
The Faculty has come a long way since its creation in 1990. It has become an important and a recognized player in Lithuania's academic and business communities. This judgment is rendered not by the author, but by the Athens LBA committee that was sent to Lithuania in 1994 by the European Community to review, search, and select, from among the area universities, a possible candidate for the development of a center of excellence in business education. The following excerpts highlight the committee's findings:
"1. The Kaunas University of Technology academic and administrative leadership are open to new ideas. The intellectual and business environment enhances the free market culture and mentality. The thinking is broad and innovative, allowing for educational development and experimentation.
2. The leadership of the university has an understanding for market economy and real business needs and has been active in addressing business problems through education and research... the university shows an understanding of the mechanisms operating in the market economy. This conceptual understanding can possibly be used as an example to other higher education institutions when they develop their management and business education programs.
3. Both related faculties, i. e. Faculty of Business Administration and Faculty of Management, have a broad field of competencies and interests, suitable for a European MBA program. Thus, it is sensible to build a program on existing educational research and human resources. This saves both time and money, and possibilities for success are enhanced.
The Faculty of Administration is worth being selected and supported to develop a center of excellence for the following reasons:
1. The Faculty of Administration is an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal and is committed to using its full potential in human resources and infrastructure for the success of the Center.
2. Its faculty has made proof of its international orientation, through the formation of an international advisory board, comprised of 127 persons, mainly American academics and businessmen, and the establishment of contacts with numerous European business schools and universities, including the Norwegian School of Management, Lund University, Zurich University, International Management Institute, etc.
3. The Faculty of Administration has already developed two areas of strength that are core to the MBA program, namely Organizational Behavior and Strategic Planning and is working on a number of research projects in these areas.
4. The Faculty is maintaining close links with local companies, which constitute a major resource that can be used for applied research projects and case-studies development. In particular, 300 contracts were made between local SME's and the Faculty's 3rd and 4th year students in he BBA program concerning internships and small research projects.
5. The Faculty of Business Administration being established in only 1991, there is no evidence of institutional inertia similar to what can be observed in more traditional faculties. Up to now, the faculty has been very active in teacher re-training, recruitment of young academics and introduction of new programs. "
The conclusions drawn by this impartial European Community body reflect the strong and determined spirit the AC has experienced throughout its work with the KTU Faculty of Administration and its students — an earnest desire to learn, to grow and to excel in their accomplishments towards a promising future. The Advisory Council is proud to have had the opportunity to contribute to and to be included in this process.
1. Letter of February 18, 1992, S. Bačkaitis to V. Barđauskienë.
2. Letter of April 2, 1992, V. Kundrotas to S. Bačkaitis.
3. Memo of July 7, 1992, AC to the Faculty.
4. Letter of November 22, 1992, S. Bačkaitis to V. Barđauskienë.
5. Letter of January 5, 1993, S. Bačkaitis to Houghton Mifflin Co.
6. Fax of June 10, 1993, s. Bačkaitis to V. Barđauskienë.
7. Letter of August 9, 1993, S. Bačkaitis to V. Barđauskienë.
8. Letter of October 15, 1993, S. Bačkaitis to V. Barđauskienë.
9. Letter of November 8, 1993, V. Barđauskienë to S. Bačkaitis.
10. Applications to Lithuanian National and Lithuanian Foundations.
11. Fax of March 18, 1994, S. Bačkaitis to V. Barđauskienë.
12. Fax of March 25, 1994, AC to V. Barđauskienë.
13. Letter of September 21, 1994, V. Kundrotas to S. Bačkaitis.
14. Fax of June 6, 1995, E. Bagdonas to S. Bačkaitis.
15. The Athens LBA. "Proposal for the Creation of Centre of Excellence at Kaunas University of Technology, " Regional ACE Program, 1994.