• Faculty Spotlight: Cristian Chelariu


The Faculty Spotlight feature is designed to introduce prospective students to the teaching and research interests of the Sawyer Business School Faculty. Each week a new faculty member will be profiled.

Cristian Chelariu, assistant professor of marketing, is passionate about emerging markets, and it shows in everything he says, teaches and publishes. “We don’t pay enough attention to emerging markets, but that’s where real growth will come from.” Selling to developing economies is radically different, and Professor Chelariu’s mission is to understand that difference theoretically and prepare his students to cope with it practically. “Your boss hands you a ticket to Manila or Shanghai and says ‘Make the deal happen!’ You’re on the plane. What’s your battle plan? How are you going to succeed?”

“Selling to developed countries is now almost as routine as selling domestically,” Chelariu says. “But in Eastern Europe, Africa, China, marketers must think outside the box. You have to work without the rich business infrastructure we expect in Western Europe and North America, ordinary things like logistics channels, advertising agencies, banks and credit reporting, everything. And what about contracts, how can you do business without an enforceable contract?”

Chelariu’s students learn to create and nurture sales forces and other business-to-business marketing channels designed to succeed in complex, unfamiliar environments. “We have a lot of strategies to make up for the lack of enforcement. You do it by building relationships of trust with partners and agents and government officials. You show them what I call ‘the shadow of the future,’ the lure of future benefits from a relationship that outweigh the temptation to cheat.”

Professor Chelariu sees the developing world’s lack of infrastructure as a fertile source of innovation and growth. “There are villages in Africa with no sources of electricity. So they run generators on oil made from locally grown nuts. It’s so exciting to see what is happening there. Africa has many cell phones. They will never lay thousand of miles of cable like in North America or Western Europe, and they will never need to. They have skipped right over that step to the most advanced technologies.”

Legal vacuums and cultural differences can create ethical questions for companies entering emerging markets, sparking lively discussions in Chelariu’s classroom, especially from students who have already worked in third-world business environments. “I tell my students that even when there are no legal consequences, you must do what lets you sleep at night.”

“I teach because I love learning new things every day,” says Chelariu. “You have to keep up, reading academic journals and the business press, because you need fresh examples.”

Chelariu graduated with a degree in economics from Al. I. Cuza University, the oldest higher education institution in Romania, followed by studies in law and purchasing. With an MBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a PhD from Georgia State University in Atlanta, he taught for five years at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.

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Cristian Chelariu
Assistant Professor
of Marketing