Dean's New Year Message for 2024

Jan 4, 2024

New Year's Greetings from Hitotsubashi ICS!OSONO Emi 2023 5.jpg

From Emi Osono, Dean and Professor

I hope this message finds you well at the start of the new year, 2024.

 In this new year, our ability to respond to natural disasters is once again being tested. On New Year's Day, people in central Japan, on the Sea of Japan coast, found themselves having to cope with a powerful earthquake, tsunami warnings, sudden evacuations, and numerous aftershocks. We would like to express our deepest sympathy to all those affected by the earthquake. We greatly appreciate the efforts of disaster relief workers and other first responders.

 We are extremely sorry to hear that members of the Japan Coast Guard died during a mission to bring relief supplies to earthquake survivors. Five of the six crew lost their lives when the coast guard aircraft, on the runway at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, burst into flames after being struck by an incoming passenger plane on January 2. Fortunately, all 367 passengers and 12 crew members aboard JAL Flight 516 were safely evacuated before the jet became engulfed in flames.

 This tragedy at Haneda Airport illustrates the importance of emergency drills. We need to prepare for emergencies by taking the time to consider various disaster scenarios and identify possible risks.

 When making decisions that affect our actions, we are unable to take into account hidden factors (i.e., information that is either unknown or beyond our awareness). Such unforeseeable factors constitute "unknown unknowns." To deal with unknown unknowns, we need to examine our implicit assumptions, keep an open mind, seek input from various people, and pay close attention to their different perspectives. What would most disrupt this process? The answer is divisiveness. Specifically, attitudes that hinder cooperation and actions at cross purposes with the overall objective. Divisiveness impedes our ability to deal with challenges that are increasingly more complex.  

 Looking back at 2023, we saw increases in divisiveness in many parts of the world. Examples include new outbreaks of escalating unrest and intensifying geopolitical tensions.

 In this climate of divisiveness, the Hitotsubashi University Business School, School of International Corporate Strategy (ICS) is strengthening efforts to serve as a bridge between cultures. Recognizing that our business school is uniquely positioned to take up a leadership role, we have decided to focus on two specific objectives. Firstly, ICS is placing renewed emphasis on creating social impact. Secondly, ICS is making the development of open-minded leaders who can consider a situation from multiple perspectives an even higher priority. The ultimate goal is to cultivate future leaders who will be able to effectively lead in situations characterized by complexity, for the betterment of society.

 ICS' initiatives to improve social impact include a new internship program in Ghana. Two MBA students from the Class of 2022, Qianyi Ye (Qianyi) and Kuo-Chung Wang (KC), will spend 18 days in March with members of the Koko Plus Foundation, where they will be joining an initiative to tackle the problem of infant malnutrition. Corporate internships are also an important way to have an impact on society. We are grateful to ICS alum Yusuke Takahashi (Yuten, ICS Class of 2014) and the Ajinomoto Foundation for accepting our students as interns. Expenses for the Ghana internship will be covered in equal parts by the ICS Alumni Donation Fund and by Hitotsubashi University.

 Another initiative to increase social impact is the enhancement of the MBA Capstone Project course. This two-credit required course has been redesigned. From AY2024, the Capstone Project course will be a four-credit residential course. "Residential" means that students will spend time working at the client companies, where they will be completely immersed in the firm's corporate culture. Through this immersion experience, they will gain a first-hand understanding of the issues that have been pre-selected by participating client companies and institutions.

 In addition, participants in the Capstone Project course are being given the challenge of coming up with ways to support innovation incubation and the commercialization of scientific research results. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) and UTokyo Innovation Platform Co., Ltd. (UTokyo IPC), which organizes investment, provides incubation support, and operates an HR platform for deep tech researchers. ICS students are encouraged to apply what they've learned in the Capstone Project course to help startups commercialize research results in deep tech fields like medicine and the life sciences, space, robotics and hardware, IT services, artificial intelligence (AI), the environment, and agritech.

 On the leadership development front, under the direction of the new MBA Program Director, Professor Satoko Suzuki, we have been revamping the MBA curriculum. Last fall, we introduced a new required course, the "Leadership Development Journey," a year-long course for first-year MBA students. The course allows students to periodically reflect on their MBA experience. In addition, students receive guidance several times during their first year. Professor Jody Ono, who teaches the leadership development course, holds one-on-one consultations with each student. Students are encouraged to formulate their own leadership philosophy, taking into consideration the various perspectives they have encountered in their first-year courses. Another change is that the Global Citizenship course has been redesigned, with an emphasis on leadership development. It has been renamed, "The Wise Leadership Course." The course content, based primarily on the body of academic research by Professors Jiro Nonaka and Hiro Takeuchi, is taught by Dr. Hideki Kawada (ICS MBA Class of 2000, 2008 DBA). From AY2024, a new faculty member will start teaching a new course on leadership from an academic perspective.

 To better fulfill its mission, ICS is expanding its faculty. Assistant Professor Ryosuke Fujitani joined ICS in September 2023. He teaches two accounting courses for the MBA students and a quantitative research methods course for the DBA students. Ryosuke had previously taught at ICS as a visiting lecturer for about two years before becoming a full-time faculty member in September 2023, so recent alums already know him. In April 2024, a new faculty member will be joining ICS. This instructor will be teaching Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management courses for the MBA students, and a course on qualitative research methods for the DBA students. In addition to these two distinguished scholars, ICS is in the process of hiring a faculty member specializes in Technology and Operations Management.

 Finally, I would like to express my wholehearted gratitude to our adjunct faculty members and partner organizations, our full-time faculty, and our administrative staff. Although ICS has a relatively small student body and faculty, the scope of our activities is broad. ICS is a proud community builder, with a global orientation. We have cultivated relationships with an extensive network of overseas business schools. For example, participation in the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) and the Best Alliance helps our MBA students gain a deeper understanding of business practices in different cultures. Students can get insight into the opportunities and challenges that global companies face when expanding into overseas markets. They learn about social impact and the importance of engagement with the local community. Interaction with our allied business schools and presentations by guest speakers help ICS students to develop a broader perspective, as well as provide increased opportunities to learn from business leaders. Such insights and experiences contribute to a greater appreciation for diversity. The key is shared values because our shared values are what connect us. Like ICS, our partner schools are committed to innovation, excellence, and inclusiveness. We believe that diversity brings opportunity. By partnering with overseas business schools, companies and institutions, we can provide a more enriching experience to all students. Let's work together to reduce divisiveness and create a better future.

 Best wishes to all of you in the new year, which is the Year of the Dragon.


Prof. Emi Osono
Dean, Hitotsubashi ICS
Hitotsubashi University Business School,
School of International Corporate Strategy