Програма академiчних обмiнiв iменi Фулбрайта в Українi

5 листопада 2015

Anna TARANENKO: U.S. – Ukraine: International Research for Community Benefit

Anna TARANENKO: U.S. – Ukraine: International Research for Community Benefit

Anna TARANENKO
Fulbright Graduate Students Program 2006/08
Kyiv International University
International Relations | Master's Program in Hispanic Studies and International Relations
University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

The beginning of my Fulbright experience goes back to the time when I was a final year student. I attended a presentation of Fulbright Graduate Exchange Program held at my University. It was extremely interesting, captivating and eye-opening in terms of new horizons of research and intercultural experience. Probably, my overall impression can be expressed in a phrase "It is so exciting, but in order to get in, one needs to be a genius!" Time was passing, I was reviewing the application package over and over again, familiarizing myself with the requirements and one day I made a decision to apply.

I became the program finalist in 2006 and went to complete 2-year MA program to the University of Illinois at Chicago. My major was Hispanic Studies and International Relations/Political Science, which belong to the sphere of my strong research interests. Upon return to Ukraine in 2008 I continued with my PhD program in International Relations at Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and defended my thesis in 2011. Fulbright program was a highly important milestone in my personal development as a researcher as it helped me to grasp international standards of research conduct and refine my analytical skills.

While completing my PhD degree I was working at International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) in Civil Society Development division. Working with the international team of professionals and contributing to the Ukrainian community development was highly rewarding. My work experience and training activities relate to a lot of places throughout Ukraine, Poland, the U.S., Peru, Moldova, and Latvia. Upon the program completion I returned to academia, and started researching and teaching International Relations at Kyiv International University.

In 2015 I was very happy to join a team of international scholars and researchers - Precedent Academics, a company that specializes in online education and research. One of the most recent large scale research projects held by the team is "Barriers to Entrepreneurship of Women's Business in Ukraine". The research is led by Dr John Johnson (University of Phoenix) who has extensive experience of working and researching in Ukraine and contributes to local development by leading international (Ukraine-U.S.) research endeavors. Dr. Johnson has been conducting research on leadership issues in Ukraine for over 20 years. He was the first American Scholar to write a dissertation on leadership in Ukraine (1994-1996) and lived in Ukraine for 5 years during this time, teaching at local universities.

In 2014 he won a grant to conduct a quantitative study on challenges to women's business development in Ukraine. In the first (qualitative) phase of research it was defined that one of the main motivators for women to launch a business is crisis that urges women to engage in entrepreneurship to provide for their families. Besides, women gain experience of successful business conduct and control of their own salaries.

The second (quantitative) phase of the study was held in 2015. The study encompassed 1,000 respondents from all parts of the country. The main goal of the study was to determine barriers that prevent Ukrainian women from successful business management. Based on the research findings, top three obstacles are as follows: (1) government bureaucracy (77% of respondents), (2) lack of government support for business development (66%), (3). lack of independent business start-up financing (60%). Besides, a considerable obstacle, according to the Ukrainian business women, is lack of qualified staff (42% of respondents).

Interestingly, the Ukrainian women entrepreneurs demonstrate a high level of communication skills. 71% of respondents state that they communicate with other colleagues often or very often. These skills of professional communication and network building in business environment can be a powerful tool promoting business growth of Ukrainian women.

Per Dr. Johnson's remarks, business women in Ukraine are often too critical about their professional success and therefore tend to underestimate their achievements. It is advisable for business ladies to remember that being a successful entrepreneur is not necessarily managing a large corporation. Leading a successful small business requires a lot of managerial talent, efforts and skills.

I became the project outreach coordinator in summer 2015. All previous experience and analytical skills gained through the Fulbright program and further scientific activities have been invaluable in contributing to the project management. As Fulbright alumna, I am happy to continue my research tasks, and further partake in cross-cultural research endeavors for international communities benefit.