Global Operations: Reducing barriers to international research

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by Sandra Boone

How do I legally hire an employee in Colombia? What’s the best way to access cash in the Congo? Is it better to rent or purchase a car abroad?

These types of legal and compliance issues can easily delay or even derail international research projects. That’s where Global Operations comes in.

Launched in 2012, the University of Minnesota’s Global Operations brings together experts and resources from across the university system in the areas of tax, purchasing, legal, human resources and compliance.

“The Global Operations team has intervened at crucial moments to assist me to successfully navigate university bureaucracy that was hindering the progress of a large international project I direct,” said Professor David Chapman, principal investigator on the MasterCard Foundation project and two USAID projects. “Global Operations has helped us navigate through these hurdles.”

Global Operations is a university-wide resource that collaborates with researchers to assess issues, provide advice and reduce internal infrastructure barriers for research teams. Together, the initiative’s advisory team (comprised of university experts in the areas of tax, purchasing, legal, human resources and compliance) and a variety of working groups provide free, personalized, no-fault support that can help mitigate potential risks and reduce project costs in the long-term. Global Operations also has access to outside counsel from Radius, an international business service firm focused on the unique circumstances of higher education.

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Locations where Global Operations has helped researchers.

Global Operations has handled 45 cases in two years, including projects in more than 20 countries and five continents, providing support to 18 colleges/centers and three administrative offices on three campuses. The most popular countries included China and India, and the most common areas of assistance are tax, banking/cash management and human resources.

In addition to providing one-on-one support, Global Operations has created an online toolkit with resources to answer questions associated with the hiring of employees outside the United States, the purchase and use of vehicles abroad and visas. More resources will be added over time.

Researchers can contact Global Operations to request support at any time before or during the research process, and projects of all sizes are welcome.


 Global Operations in Action

Global Operations has recently signed on to provide support to the College of Veterinary Medicine and its new $50 million, 5-year USAID-funded project, Emerging Pandemic Threats 2. Global Operations will provide advice and support around hiring local employees, paying local vendors, opening in-country bank accounts and complying with local tax regulations.


 

Sandra Boone is a communications specialist in the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance.