American business students often wonder why they should be concerned with learning about European culture, society, and history.
Here are a few data points that suggest the importance of Europe for American businesspeople and for the American economy:
The American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union emphasizes that: “Total US investment in Europe amounts to $700 billion, and supports over 4 million jobs.”
According to the European Commission of the European Union: “In 2006 the EU and the US combined economies accounted for nearly 60% of global GDP, 33% of world trade in goods and 42% of world trade in services. The EU and the US are each other’s main trading partners. Trade flows across the Atlantic amount to around €1.7 billion every day.”
See the European Commission’s website on trading relations with the United States online for more data on US-EU commerce, which is often referred to as the Transatlantic relationship.
Business students at Northern Illinois University should be aware that the Chicago metropolitan area “has long been a hub of international business activity, home to well over 1,500 foreign-based companies, and with more than $40 billion in foreign direct investment,” according to World Business Chicago. Many of these foreign-based companies—such as Siemens, K+S AG, Lufthansa, Deutsche Telekom, Willis, Unilever, and Nestle—are from European countries.
As a French historian, I am particularly interested in Franco-American business connections in Chicago. French-based companies such as Veolia Environment, Alcatel-Lucent, and Schnieder Electric all have a major presence in the Chicago area. Aon, Hyatt, McDonald’s, Kraft, and other Illinois-based companies do extensive business in France.
World Business Chicago also lists 79 Consulates, at least 40 international or ethnic Chambers of Commerce, and numerous foreign-based trade organizations located in Chicago.
Northern Illinois University students interested in working for European companies in the United States or for American companies doing business in Europe need to have a firm grasp of European culture and history. A working knowledge of European languages and an appreciation of European history can provide students with a real edge in the international job market.
NIU has a variety of international and study abroad programs that support European studies through linguistic, historic, literary, and political science approaches.