Cars and Boycotts: Dr. Radek Szulga Presents for First Faculty Colloquium of the Semester

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Cars and Boycotts: Dr. Radek Szulga Presents for First Faculty Colloquium of the Semester

On Friday, September 14, Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Radek Szulga presented his body of research “The Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands Incident and the Effects of the Chinese Boycott of Japanese Cars: Historical Persistence and Nationalism” at Lyon College’s first faculty colloquium of the semester.

In his lecture, Szulga described the nature and primary causes of boycotts, as well as the effect they have on producers and consumers. In the 2012 Chinese boycott of Japanese-made cars sparked by a feud over a plot of land, Szulga and his research partner Wei-Min Hu found some unexpected trends: instead of buying comparable European or American luxury vehicles, Chinese consumers consistently elected to buy more modest Chinese-made cars. The data led Szulga and his partner to question the psychology of these consumer choices and return to the raw data to run new programs to test hypotheses.

Provost Dr. Melissa Taverner, spoke to the importance of Lyon’s faculty colloquiums.

“We have a faculty that is composed of extraordinary, capable scholars,” she said. “They do original research that is relevant not just regionally, but globally. The neat thing about the colloquium is it’s really designed to help faculty members who are working on a project to present not necessarily always a final project, but a project that is in play.”

The fact that their research is still ongoing was “surprising” to mathematics and English double major Jacob Strickland, who was in attendance on Friday.

In this way, students, as well as faculty and staff get a behind-the-scenes look at not just a polished work or body of research, but also at the process of it all. Szulga’s research has led to many conclusions which he demonstrated with graphs that helped make his findings accessible to the audience.

“These colloquiums allow students to hear about topics that are not in classes, whether because it is too obscure, or simply because it does not fit under any subject the college currently offers,” shared Strickland.