Istanbul, Turkey: The Country’s Economic, Cultural and Historical Heart

Ellen McMahon, EdD

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The largest city in Turkey, Istanbul is the heart of the country’s economic, cultural, and historical roots. Settled between Asia and Europe, this unique city is home to a diverse group of residents. As a country, Turkey is a member of various international organizations, such as the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), which has contributed to its rapid economic growth and evolvement. As the commercial center of southeastern Europe, the Middle East and Eurasia, Turkey is becoming an increasingly important economic and diplomatic country in the region. These are some of the many reasons why we’ve selected Istanbul as Lake Forest Graduate School of Management’s next Global Focus trip destination in June 2015.

Turkey entered a customs union with the European Union (EU) in 1996 and has been an EU accession candidate since 2005. This has resulted in the expansion of trade relations with Europe, which now accounts for 44 percent of Turkey’s foreign trade. The country offers an accessible, skilled and cost-effective workforce, providing the fourth largest labor force amongst EU members and accession countries. Boasting a population over 76 million – half of which is under the age of 30 – Turkey is a young, dynamic and well-educated country as a whole. Approximately 610,000 students graduate annually from over 183 universities.

From an economic perspective, Turkey has experienced a rapid climb, more than tripling its gross domestic product (GDP) since 2002 from $231 billion to $820 billion. This upward trend is expected to continue. The Turkish government has introduced flexible exchange rate policies and liberal import regulations in order to promote and sustain foreign investment. The government also provides various tax and non-tax incentives to foreign investors, in line with those provided to domestic companies.

LFGSM instructor, Iwona Bochenska, will be leading the June trip to Istanbul. Having successfully led many trips with students in the past, Iwona is looking forward to sharing in the experience once again.

“From my point of view, seeing students learn and develop new perspectives on global issues is incredibly rewarding,” says Iwona. “Turkey is a great country with enormous business potential. On past trips, students were amazed by the history, culture and architectural landmarks, as well as the booming Turkish economy. This creates a truly unique learning environment for the LFGSM students.”

International immersion into foreign business and culture, as well as the opportunity to apply what they learn in class on a global consulting project, will set students apart and prove valuable in any leadership role.

“They increase their knowledge by being exposed to a new country’s market first-hand,” says Iwona. “I am always happy to see students changing their preconceived notions about a foreign country, its people and business culture. In many cases, their mindset shifts and allows them to come away with a fresh, more balanced take on many issues.”

If you are interested in learning more about our upcoming trip to Istanbul, Turkey, visit the Global Focus page on our website. The deadline for registration is March 6, 2015.



Ellen McMahon



Ellen McMahon. EdD
Dean, Faculty Relations and Degree Program,
Lake Forest Graduate School of Management


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