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Business Horizons (2011) 54, 375—382

www.elsevier.com/locate/bushor

Getting what we wish for: The realities of business education for a global economy
Paul de Rijke a, Jonathan A. Plucker b,*
a b

Rotterdam Business School, Rotterdam University, The Netherlands Consortium for Education & Social Science Research, Indiana University, 1900 E. 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47406, U.S.A.KEYWORDS
Business education; International students; Global business; Globalization; Business schools

Abstract Business schools around the world have embraced globalization and, as a result, attempted to attract international students to their programs. Teaching diverse student groups has many advantages, but is not without its challenges, including cultural differences in educationalexpectations and student self-efficacy. The goal of this article is to suggest that we can create plans and activities capable of helping Asian students adapt more quickly to the expectations of Western education. We herein describe Rotterdam Business School’s experiences in working with a diverse–—mainly Asian–—population of students, focusing on strategies that may assist them in adapting to theexpectations of the global business school classroom. # 2011 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.

1. Educating international students is complicated
The literature is replete with analyses of how business schools should respond to the realities of globalization (AACSB, 2002; Mohamed & Lashine, 2003; Nino, 2010; Parker & Guthrie, 2010; Thomas, 2007). Much of thisdiscussion is set within the context of the need for business schools to reexamine their purpose, structure, and activities–—this in response to an increasing demand that students be prepared for globalization, following the recent near-collapse of the world’s financial system (Hay, 2008). One way in which business schools may address global economic and business issues is via interna* Corresponding author.E-mail address: jplucker@indiana.edu (J.A. Plucker).

tionalization of the curriculum and student body. While much of the extant research focuses on adding international content to existing courses of study, or how new international experiences can be provided to students, another approach entails attracting an internationally diverse group of students. In this vein, Peter Lorange(2003)–—then-president of the International Institute for Management Development–—argued that business schools must promote global thinking, which he defined as ‘‘acknowledging the importance of eclecticism; i.e., bringing people together with different perspectives, different backgrounds, different cultures, different consumer understandings, different geopolitical viewpoints, [et cetera], in a way in which theywill benefit from one another’’ (p. 128). Business schools’ desire to bring together diverse students is clearly advantageous: What better way is

0007-6813/$ — see front matter # 2011 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2011.03.004

376 there to prepare individuals for international activity and interactions, than to be exposed to and workwith similar profiles during one’s education? However, creating a productive, intellectually valuable learning experience involving students from around the world is easier said than done. The cultural differences that we seek to understand and from which we hope to benefit are, by definition, a paradox. Culture clashes are inevitable and difficult to navigate; were they not, everyone would find it easyto work across cultures and globalization of business schools would not be necessary (de Bettingies & Tan, 2007). Several observers have mentioned the challenges non-U.S. natives must tackle while pursuing advanced degrees in business. For example, in her analysis of the obstacles facing international students enrolled in American law and business schools, Pistone (2010) specifically noted...
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