Visiting scholar Heyin Hou on research inspiration and living on Canada’s West Coast

Sep 09, 2011

VANCOUVER– Heyin Hou, a visiting scholar at the Beedie School of Business who recently concluded his one-year visit, has left the business school and SFU community with his poignant and inspired thoughts on not only academia, but also his experiences living in Vancouver and Canada.

Originally from Liangshan, Shandong, China, Hou is an Associate Professor at Southeast University, and studied at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Here is his recap of life, academics and business research in the Vancouver and Simon Fraser University communities:

I only remember the ups of life in Canada
by Heyin Hou

My one-year visiting SFU will come to the end. On last Wednesday, I asked the Consulate-General of China in Vancouver to book my return-air-ticket. If there is nothing else, I would leave the beautiful SFU, Vancouver and Canada on September 9.

My family has started the countdown for my return date, and I have been looking forward to family reunion. Unpredictably, with the return date is getting closer, I begin sensing and discovering one feeling—how reluctant I am to face the departure!

It becomes so challenging for me to think about the leaving. However, I should face the reality, bravely and rationally. Before the coming departure, I should, and am glad to, recall and summarize the one-year visiting SFU.

The one-year started on last September 11th, a very special date for the world, especially for the U.S.; on this day, I arrived at the YVR. It was my first time visiting a foreign country. With a heart full of curiosity, I began the one-year visiting SFU. During the one-year, I have experienced the ups and downs of life. The downs made me sad and depressed; and, the ups happy and spirited.

Now, when summarizing the one-year visiting SFU, I only remember the ups and not the downs anymore. Anyway, I will summarize the one year in a positive emotion; I get so many fantastic and unforgettable experiences in SFU, Vancouver and Canada.

As you know, I am an associate professor at School of Economics and Management, Southeast University. Yes, the School of Economics and Management (SEM) is my home school; and the Southeast University (SEU) is my home university. After returning back China, I would and should disseminate and share my experiences with students, colleagues and friends.

(1) Take different levelled courses

During the fall semester, I audited two sources: one is “Bus 988: Introduction to Organization Theory and Change”, and other is “Bus 752: Strategic Management of Technology”. Among these two courses, Bus 988 is a PhD-level course, and Bus 752 is a MBA-level course.

During the winter semester, I audited two sources: one is “Bus 981: Research Methods in Business Administration”, and other is “Bus 478: Strategic Management”. Among these two courses, Bus 981 is a PhD-level course, and Bus 478 is an undergraduate-level course.

(2) Learn new research perspectives and fields

Through joining the PhD-level course, Bus 988, I newly learnt or re-understood some research perspectives and fields on organizational change.

Those perspectives that impressed me most are as follows: the Sociological perspectives and Learning and knowledge perspectives; the economic perspectives, Transactions-cost theory and The Resource Based View.

Those fields that impressed me most are as follows: Industry change and Social movements; institutional work; and, absorptive capacity.

(3) Learn new research methods

In China, there is a popular prejudice, valuing quantitative and underrating qualitative methods. This prejudice brings up wide pernicious influences; it is rather challenging for scholars who only use qualitative methods to publish papers on top journals in China.

I am deeply affected by the prejudice too. Before visiting SFU, I only used and prized the game theory as the main research method. And, I despised and disdained qualitative methods.

Through joining the PhD-level courses, Bus 988 and Bus 981, my prejudice was totally overturned. Especially, Bus 981 provided the skills and experiences necessary to conduct behaviour research. And more importantly, the course enabled me to understand and critically evaluate behavioural research.

Now, I clearly know and recognize that the prejudice should be overthrown, immediately and completely. In the future, when I return back China, I will disseminate and emphasize qualitative methods, especially the behavioural research, to my colleagues and students.

(4) Get new research inspirations

Inspired by taking courses, especially Bus 988 and Bus 981, I get new research ideas. I will realize these ideas in papers; also, I will share these ideas with my students and colleagues.

I am writing a paper, titled as “Tilting at Windmills? Prof. Cheng Siwei and the Emergence of China Venture Capital Industry”. China needs to move up the value chain. And, China aspires to become an innovation-oriented country. Without getting sufficient and efficient support from the venture capital industry, technological innovation cannot get implemented. People often looked Prof. Cheng Siwei as the father of China venture capital; he devoted lots of efforts to develop China venture capital industry. Based on the Social Movement Theory and the Institution Theory, I want to depict how Prof. Cheng have overcome opposition from incumbent organizations and founded favourable institutional arrangements.

Also, I am writing a paper, “Research on Formation Mechanisms of Venture Capital Syndicate Network”. Syndicate investment is a rather popular mechanism in venture capital industry; due to the syndicate, many venture capitalists become connected, directly and indirectly. Connected venture capitalists, from a macro perspective, form a huge network, which is called “venture capital syndicate network”. In the paper, based on analyzing how explicit and implicit incentives effect venture capitalists’ present actions and future payoffs, I plan to comprehensively and deeply characterize these incentives’ influencing mechanisms on the VCSN’s formation.

(5) Learn new teaching approaches

In China, it is traditional that the student quietly listens to and passively obeys to the teacher’s teaching. It is impolite for the student to make the teacher caught in embarrassing situations. That is, student has no courage, no skill and no habit to challenge the teacher’s authority. At the same time, the teacher has no courage, no skill and no habit to cope with the student’s challenge.

However, without challenging, there would be no efficient communication and lively interaction between the student and the teacher. So, generally speaking, in China, the atmosphere of classroom is usually rather inactive and stagnant.

I really enjoyed taking all courses in SFU. Due to the language obstacle, I couldn’t fully catch professors’ teaching and students’ speech; many times, all the people except me laughed at a joke or something in the classroom. But, I could fully tell professors’ and students’ excitement when lively interacting with each other in the classroom.

So, after returning back China, I should spend more time on designing teaching works; I should try to cultivate and increase students’ and my courage, skill and habit to efficient communication and lively interaction.

(6) Learn to balance the teaching and research works

The SEU, my home university, wants to become a top research university in China. So, adopting all kinds of measures, SEU encourages professors to devote more and more effort and attention to research work. Due to limited effort and attention, professors are rather busy on research work, and lack of time on teaching work.

Teaching is one of higher education’s three main tasks; and, teaching is the fundamental role for any university. But, the government requires SEU to become a top research university; SEU encourages professors to do research work; and, the professors only have limited effort and attention. So, many times, I felt very guilty, when students complaining about SEU’s teaching work.

In SFU, I found out that professors must spend many efforts on teaching works. These are some but not all my experiences: carefully designed syllabus before opening the course, carefully arranged teaching and reasonably guided interaction in the classroom, and comprehensively evaluated performance after closing the course.

Inspired by these experiences, I understand more about the meaning of teaching works; and, I should pay more attention on teaching works, making students disappoint not too much on their learning. Yes, I should well balance attentions distributed on research works and on teaching.

(7) Learn advanced business school operation mechanisms

The Beedie School of Business has emerged as a dynamic teaching and learning setting, and today enjoys a reputation for producing global-class research for the knowledge economy. Compared with the Beedie, the SEM, my home business school in my home university, is too far behind.

So, from mid-July, I have been checking and comparing the Beedie and the SEM. The checking and comparing render me a lot of knowledge about contemporary business school. As one of top business schools in Canada, the Beedie has clearly expressed the mission statements and core values, has achieved accreditations from the AACSB and the EQUIS, has committed to integrating the PRME, has rallied faculties to specific research areas, and has set up systemic education programs.

Based on the checking and comparing, I will suggest the SEM, my home school, to learn advanced experiences from the Beedie. Maybe, the Beedie and the SEM can find some commons and develop co-operations in the future.

(8) Enjoy Canadian friends’ hospitality

Almost every weekday, I study in the office, Room 4375, WMC, Burnaby Campus. Thanks to the Beedie, I get a wonderful place to study, to mediate, and to write. In the office, I have many opportunities to meet with professors and students. And more, through taking courses, I know more professors and students. Many of these professors and students become my audiences; I like to discuss with them, although my English is so poor.

Besides making new friends on campus, I also win many friends off campus. Whether on or off the campus, I always receive these friends’ hospitality and kindness.

(9) Know diversified Canadian cultures

Through discussing with Canadian friends, and visiting their houses, I know more and more about Canadian cultures. Sometimes, I am rather confusing about Canadian cultures’ diversification. But, I really enjoyed the diversification.

Those Canadian friends serve and entertain me so warmly and kindly; I really feel very happy and lucky. From these friends, I know more how to handle interpersonal relationship, how to serve and entertain guests, and how to love foreign friends in a trans-cultural environment.

(10)Amaze at Canadian buildings and natures

SFU has three campuses; and I visit all of them. Atop Burnaby Mountain, I enjoy the Burnaby campus which offers a panoramic, mountain-framed view of the Vancouver region. Stepping into the Segal Graduate School, I enjoy the ornate heritage building at Downtown Vancouver. At the Surrey campus, I like the futuristic-looking tower known as the world’s best business center.

Vancouver is called “The Best Place on Earth”. The city is abundant with blessings, such as Grouse Mountain, Burnaby Mountain, Capilano Canyon, English Bay, Burrad Inlet, Deer Lake, and Stanley Park. It is amazing for me to live in a so beautiful city.

Also, during my family’s visit in June, I took them to Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, and Victoria. Many gorgeous scenes, such as Snow capped mountains, refreshing rivers, fertile valleys and ocean vistas, inspired me so much.

Many and many things I want to write down; many and many experiences I want to share. Due to the time, I only write down these ten experiences in the letter. Definitely, I will get more and more inspirations and insights from the one-year visiting SFU. If yes, will write down them and share with you.

Yours sincerely,

Heyin Hou

August 16, 2011