Photo of Vern Terpstra

An MBA in 1951 from the University of Michigan was followed by a missionary call to the then Belgian Congo. We spent eighteen months in Belgium, nine months with a Walloon family in Brussels and nine months with a Flemish family in Antwerp, a good introduction to cross-cultural living. My wife studied tropical medicine and I audited courses at the University of Brussels.

In the Congo, my wife ran a bush hospital and I started a Normal School. My courses in Brussels helped me design an intelligence test in Swahili that helped select candidates for my school from many applications from different area tribes. That career was rudely interrupted in 1961 when the United Nations troops came to rescue my family (three children born there) when we were regularly threatened by rebels in the newly independent Congo. I found that I enjoyed teaching (in French there) so in America I decided on a Ph.D. in, of course, International Business. I received the first doctoral fellowship at Marketing Science Institute where I studied the new EEC and American firms' adjustments to it, (published in '67).

After a couple years at Wharton, I went to the University of Michigan for the rest of my career. My international experience helped to write books on The Cultural Environment of International Business and International Marketing. The latter is in Chinese and several other foreign languages. I was active in AIB (president in 1970, 71) and lectured four summers in China and lesser times in Indonesia, England, Netherlands, and other countries on three continents. Some consulting with business, government, and universities. Our IB Ph.D.'s are active on five continents.

As emeritus professor, I serve on editorial boards of eight journals, host foreign professors, and work with area study centers (Japan, China, South Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Mid-East) with occasional lectures abroad.


Vern Terpstra died on November 6, 2013 at the age of 86. 

Last Updated: November 2003

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