Northeastern’s new Center for Emerging Mar­kets wasted no time in estab­lishing itself as a clear­ing­house for the latest ideas on the busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties springing up in China, India and other devel­oping inter­na­tional markets.

On June 4, it hosted a sym­po­sium that drew experts on such topics as why emerging mar­kets matter, what impact they’ll have on U.S. firms, and how busi­nesses might cap­ture emerging-​​market customers.

Here, center director Ravi Rama­murti, the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Inter­na­tional Busi­ness, dis­cusses the center’s for­ma­tion and the oppor­tu­ni­ties that abound for North­eastern fac­ulty and stu­dents who seek to under­stand busi­ness sec­tors around the globe.

Why was the Center for Emerging Mar­kets created?

Quite simply, it was the coming together of two fac­tors: the growing impor­tance of emerging mar­kets such as China and India in the world economy, and Northeastern’s fac­ulty exper­tise on this topic.

Our fac­ulty has researched and written about emerging mar­kets for a long time. In the busi­ness school, for example, Dan McCarthy and Sheila Puffer have worked on Russian man­age­ment for years. Ravi Sarathy has studied firms in many devel­oping coun­tries. Chris Robertson has focused on Latin America.

We have sim­i­larly dis­tin­guished fac­ulty in other parts of North­eastern, too, such as—in arts and sciences—China expert Suzanne Ogden and Middle East expert Denis Sul­livan, and—in the law school—professors well versed in human-​​rights issues and globalization.

What are the center’s goals?

The main goal is to con­duct and dis­sem­i­nate research on emerging mar­kets. Such research will likely be shaped by close inter­ac­tions with man­agers, leaders and pol­i­cy­makers, such as the senior cor­po­rate leaders on the center’s external advi­sory board.

A second, closely related goal is influ­encing man­age­rial prac­tices and public policy in both devel­oped and emerging economies.

Finally, the center’s pro­grams will help our stu­dents learn about emerging coun­tries, gain co-​​op assign­ments there, or go on inter­na­tional field-​​study trips to learn more about how busi­ness is being con­ducted today.

What types of projects are international-​​business fac­ulty mem­bers already working on?

Northeastern’s international-​​business fac­ulty has been ranked among the top-​​10 or top-​​15 depart­ments in the world in terms of its research pro­duc­tivity. What we didn’t quite realize until recently is that much of this research is, in fact, focused on emerging mar­kets. So we were quite sur­prised to find that in the last few years, for instance, our busi­ness fac­ulty has pro­duced nearly 200 pub­li­ca­tions on emerging markets.

What are some topics our fac­ulty mem­bers are exploring?

Sub­jects include the com­pet­i­tive advan­tages of emerging-​​market firms, the eth­ical chal­lenges of oper­ating in emerging coun­tries, issues in cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, how to manage state-​​owned enter­prises, the dri­vers of dereg­u­la­tion and pri­va­ti­za­tion, and how Western firms can com­pete suc­cess­fully in emerging markets.

Most of our new fac­ulty hires in inter­na­tional busi­ness come with an abiding interest in emerging mar­kets, so our rep­u­ta­tion in this area will likely get stronger.

Why did the center orga­nize the “Cap­i­tal­izing on Emerging-​​Market Oppor­tu­ni­ties” sym­po­sium a few weeks ago?

It was our first attempt to increase aware­ness among the Boston busi­ness com­mu­nity on the strategic impor­tance of emerging markets.

Although I pro­vided an over­ar­ching frame­work for the sym­po­sium, the real ideas and insights were pro­vided by our speakers, who are senior exec­u­tives from the U.S.-China Busi­ness Council; the U.S.-India Busi­ness Council; and such com­pa­nies as EMC, Lib­erty Mutual, Pfizer, Sta­ples, Thermo Fisher Sci­en­tific and the Tata Group.

More than 100 exec­u­tives and pro­fes­sionals reg­is­tered to attend the event, which shows a sub­stan­tial interest in the topic among Boston-​​area com­pa­nies. On the basis of feed­back, we have decided to orga­nize more out­reach events for the busi­ness community.

What should every busi­ness stu­dent know about emerging markets?

Stu­dents should know that the center of gravity of the global economy is shifting from devel­oped to emerging economies, and from West to East. This makes it very impor­tant that North­eastern stu­dents under­stand what is going on in other parts of the world, and spend a season or two of their careers working there.

What if a stu­dent intends to work only in the United States?

Even to suc­ceed in the U.S., stu­dents will need to under­stand the strategic impli­ca­tions of mega-​​economies, such as China and India, which not only bring wage com­pe­ti­tion to bear in the global economy, but also world-​​class talent and entre­pre­neurs. Career advance­ment within U.S. multi­na­tionals is going to increas­ingly require emerging-​​market experience.