Paul Danos describes some simple initiatives business schools can take to advance the globalisation of their students.
Globalisation is one of those era-defining phenomena that demands the attention of anyone who wants to understand the world. Conveying that understanding is what business schools try to do day-in and day-out and thus there is no need to explain the importance of globalisation to business school deans. Anyone who has visited China, India or Brazil in the last several years, for instance, can feel the transformation that globalisation is bringing to these massive economies. The internal growth of these countries and the unprecedented expansion of cross-border trade in general will be integral to the welfare of all societies for the foreseeable future.
For several decades, business school officials have been concerned about ensuring that their programmes keep pace with the explosive business developments around the globe. They determined early on that simply offering a few courses that concentrated on “doing business in…” or having a course on international trade would not be sufficient.
Many schools have experimented with different offerings and even requirements but I have found that the three most effective globalisation tools a business school has are: the students themselves; a faculty of active researchers and great teachers; and a centre that offers an array of global experiences such as visitors, exchanges and projects.
A student body made up of experienced students who have worked in all parts of the world brings richness to the learning process and changes mindsets in unique ways. Learning from peers is a priceless feature of the great full-time programmes where students live and learn together.
In such programmes, globalisation is advanced by paying attention to the diversity of students and selecting those who bring the most relevant experiences with them. Once on campus, helping students share their global experiences and cultural differences is another very important role for a business school. Teamwork, study groups, residential arrangements and the way students work together in class are all important in fostering the sharing of experiences and expertise.
Every school has a personality that is to some extent imprinted on students during their time on campus. Students absorb and reflect elements of the institution’s dominant culture, such as openness, friendliness, sharing, healthy competition, ethical behaviour, helping peers and participation in classes. Together, those qualities improve the experience for everyone. In a similar way, students transmit their personalities and knowledge laterally to fellow students.
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