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Innovator Article

MBAs on the Ground in Latin America
Two Worlds Apart: Argentina & Chile

Argentina and Chile: Two countries that share a common language and climate but remain worlds apart. As Chile flexes its economic muscles, Argentina struggles.

Following 10 weeks of intensive classroom preparation, 18 UC Davis MBA students recently traveled to Buenos Aires and Santiago accompanied by Wil Agatstein, executive director for the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Their goal: new insight into international trade and the distinct twists in each country’s business environment.

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“The trip’s biggest surprise? Argentina’s out-of-control inflation and the government’s efforts to hide it. Everyone sees it, but no one talks about it on the record. Long-term planning is two weeks; a year is unthinkable.

— Wil Agatstein, executive director of the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

“With their very different experiences, Chile and Argentina provide a great perspective in today’s uncertain global economy,” said Agatstein. “Our International Study Trip immerses students in many facets of a country, teaching that culture matters, that history matters and that governments matter. Our students return home better prepared to become global business leaders—and as better citizens of the world.”

Back-to-back meetings with executives and entrepreneurs, government officials and business leaders showed the MBA team how the countries are weathering the global economic storms; encouraging innovation and entrepreneurism; establishing markets for critical exports; and emphasizing the economic importance of health care.

“Visiting such contrasting countries highlighted the impact that political and cultural values have on business dynamics and economic performance.”

— MBA student Monica Giovannetti

Next stop: Milan and Istanbul. Agatstein will lead a class of MBAs to Italy and Turkey in March.