Office hours: Professor Ulrike Schaede

The GPS faculty member opens up about some of the dearest objects that adorn her office, painting a picture of her professional backstory and personal interests

By Rachel Hommel | GPS News

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As many of her students know, Ulrike Schaede's office tells a story of business strategy and innovation in Japan. As the director of the Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology (JFIT), her office is adorned with various stories of Japanese tech gadgets, books, folklore and good luck charms.

Peek inside and you will notice an affinity for photography and technology. Since the 1980s, Schaede has been an avid analog photographer, capturing special moments in her travels throughout Japan.

Signaling office hours throughout the year, a sign greets students that says “Open” or “Closed Today” in Japanese. Enter and you immediately notice her scooter which allows her to quickly shoot around campus to meetings.

Schaede is trilingual, showing in her collection of rare Japanese texts and variety of Kanji characters throughout her space, including a lit sign of her favorite Japanese beer, Kirin Ichiban. The logo looks eerily similar to that of her hometown beer König Pilsener from Duisburg, Germany.

Hover over the images above for the big picture on her professional backstory and personal interests.

Three Questions with Ulrike Schaede


What are the real-world impacts of your research?
"By studying and analyzing the institutions and mechanisms of Japan’s business system and political economy, I highlight different modes of organizing business and the social and economic efficiency consequences of those differences."

What skills or understanding do you hope students leave your class with?
In my strategy class, we learn how to build a business model based on a set of strategic choices, as one can’t be all things to all people. In applying the main concepts of corporate strategy to real cases, students gain a toolbox for strategic thinking, business planning and consulting. In my Japan class, we analyze the great strategic transformation Japan is undergoing, and we learn the business concepts and frameworks we need to make sense of those changes.

What is your academic focus?
My research focus is on Japan, which has long followed a different type of capitalism from the U.S. – one that is kind to people, good for society overall, and has high degrees of equality interspersed with strong pockets of equity, meritocracy and competition. I explore how Japanese companies conduct business, given the specific opportunities and constraints in Japan’s political economy. From the juxtaposition with other countries, we learn that our way of doing things is not the only way, and may not always be the best one.

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