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Business education for a globally interdependent economy

Students in Western’s Ancell School of Business (ASB) are preparing for professional careers in an interdependent global economy where they must be prepared to think and compete on a national and international scale, gaining valuable experience through their participation in collaborations with real-world partners ranging from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to the office supplies multinational Staples.

Master of Business Administration students Rachid Chtioui, Kathleen Lindenmayer, Thomas Loughman and Stacey Miller '11 earned the prestigious top prize in the 2011 AARP/IW Group MBA Case Competition to plan AARP’s first leadership volunteer institute at the national level. Capping an intensive project that required thorough research of AARP’s mission, policy priorities and instructional requirements, the WCSU team received an invitation to present its prize-winning case study to AARP senior management at the organization’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C.  

Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Karen Koza, the WCSU faculty adviser for the case study, observed that the university’s MBA team impressed AARP staff in Washington with “the level of professional knowledge and skills that our students brought to the project. “They had never thought of working with a state university as a consultant before, and they said this project opened their eyes to the amazing work they could get from a university like ours.” ASB Dean Dr. Allen Morton served as school liaison for the project.

Koza observed that over the past seven years, a total of 14 semesters of advanced marketing courses at the undergraduate and MBA levels have offered opportunities to work on case research and business plans for international companies, often in collaboration with business students at sister universities in Asia. Specific projects have included studies for the Yutong Bus Manufacturing Co. in China on the firm’s plans for entry in the U.S. market; for the office supplies giant Staples on the multinational’s expansion plans in China and India; and for FuelCell Energy on growth opportunities in the Chinese market. In addition to use of Internet, video conferencing and other communications tools to work directly with business school students in China and India, a group of WCSU students traveled to China to present findings of their research to management of the Yutong Bus company. MBA student teams for the Staples projects in India and China as well as the FuelCell Energy assignment also collaborated with Koza to publish international cases.

“The Ancell School has created global and intercultural learning opportunities that promote development of culturally appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes in and outside the classroom,” Koza remarked. “We live in a rapidly changing, interdependent glob al era. It is the obligation of our educational institutions to train our students to be globally competent, equipped with the skills and knowledge to succeed in a competitive global marketplace.”

She described WCSU students’ experience in working with peers overseas as especially beneficial in enhancing the learning experience, fostering engagement in global citizenship, and providing preparation for careers in a global workplace. Citing comments from ASB students’ exit surveys on what benefits they took away from working on marketing plans with their Asian partners, she noted a recurring theme that students appreciated the opportunity to learn how to “communicate and coordinate tasks successfully across language and cultural differences.”

Students also found value in gaining practical research and planning experience in an international project for a real-world company, and in learning how to communicate their study to real-world business executives, Koza observed. She cited this survey response to exemplify the point: “Reading chapters in textbooks for a class is easy, but the experience of writing a strategic marketing plan for a real international and culturally different company is another thing. It made me appreciate how much effort and skill goes into a well thought-out and well researched plan.”

Cover photo: MBA students traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the top prize in the 2011 AARP/IW Group MBA Case Competition for planning AARP’s first leadership volunteer institute at the national level.
Above photo: Students did case research on the firm's plans for entering the U.S. market for Yutong Bus Manufacturing Company in China.

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