Learning from an International Study and Research Project by Undergraduate Students

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Northeastern University]On: 11 November 2014, At: 03:40Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK</p><p>Journal of Teaching inInternational BusinessPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wtib20</p><p>Learning from an InternationalStudy and Research Project byUndergraduate StudentsHenk von Eije aa Faculty of Management and Organisation of theUniversity of Groningen , P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV,Groningen, The NetherlandsPublished online: 12 Oct 2008.</p><p>To cite this article: Henk von Eije (1998) Learning from an International Study andResearch Project by Undergraduate Students, Journal of Teaching in InternationalBusiness, 9:4, 21-38, DOI: 10.1300/J066v09n04_02</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J066v09n04_02</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for anylosses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of theContent.</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wtib20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1300/J066v09n04_02http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J066v09n04_02</p></li><li><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan,sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone isexpressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>40 1</p><p>1 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Learning from an International Study and Research Project </p><p>by Undergraduate Students Henk von Eije </p><p>ABSTRACT. Besides courses with an international label, some business schools offer supplementary international elements in their curriculum. This article describes an integrated supplementary proj- ect in which undergraduate students organise an international study tour financed from their foreign research efforts. It analyses the learning content for two task groups, gender and self reported pro- fessionality. The students report changes in reference frames as well as learning on organizational capabilities, cultural differences, per- sonal effectiveness and on doing research. [Ar/icle copies availablefor a fee fiorii The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-342-9678. E-mail address: getirtfo@liawortli.cor,i] </p><p>INTRODUCTION </p><p>There are various philosophies, methods and strategies in teaching in- ternational business (Beck, Whiteley and McFetridge, 1996; Chekwa and </p><p>Henk von Eije is Associate Professor, Faculty of Management and Organisa- tion of the University of Groningen, P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands. </p><p>The author would like to thank Henk-Jan Belsman, Pervez Ghauri, Diana Robertson, Anne-Marike Smiers and Ad van der Zwaan, the participants of the 1996 International Teaching Programme of the London Business School as well as two anonymous referees for their stimulating comments. The author is also indebted to the participating students of the 1996 ISP for their enthusiasm, coop- eration and kindness during the five weeks that he was allowed to participate. Only the author is responsible for errors or omissions. </p><p>Journal of Teaching in International Business, Vol. 9(4) 1998 0 1998 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. 21 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>40 1</p><p>1 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>22 JOURNAL OF TEACHING IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS </p><p>Lee, 1994; Finney and Von Glinow, 1988; Gibbs, 1994; Keys and Bleick- en, 1994; Taggert, Wheeler and Young, 1994; Vielba and Edelshain, 1995). However, in their review of international business courses in tertia- ry institutions Beck, Whiteley and McFetridge (1996) did not find much diversity in international business programmes. Though additional diver- sity may be created by extra-curricular ingredients, they found some sup- plementary elements in the curricula of European MBA courses (of which only one MBA offered a study course) and minor information on supple- mentary activities in U.S. business schools. Moreover, the supplementary elements in the programmes did not clearly indicate how these experi- ences contribute to the students abilities to understand and make sense of the world of international business (Beck, Whiteley and McFetridge, 1996, p. 96). </p><p>Knowledge of supplementary elements and of what students can learn from them may thus be instructive. This paper discusses one such addi- tional international component in an undergraduate programme and then focuses on the learning experience reported by the participating students. The additional element is the so called International Study Project (ISP) of the Faculty of Management and Organization of the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). Thc ISP is an intensive international study tour organised by undergraduate students and financed from their foreign research cfforts. </p><p>The second section presents the ISP with respect to various aspects relevant in international programmes. The third section discusses the mar- keting and the management of the ISP. Section four indicates what stu- dents can learn from the ISP. Section five discusses the data and the methodology used for assessing the learning content. Section six presents the empirical results, while the final section gives the conclusions. </p><p>THE INTERNATIONAL STUDY PROJECT </p><p>In this section the ISP is presented with respect to aspects relevant in international programmes, namely location, participants, content, multi- cultural awareness and delivery method (Taggart, Wheeler, and Young, 1994, p. 6) . </p><p>Location </p><p>The ISP aims at countries which can be characterised as emerging countries, i.e., they have a fast developing economy and are lying outside the Western hemisphere. The latter implies that the participating students </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>40 1</p><p>1 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>Henk yon Eye 23 </p><p>will be confronted with relatively large cultural differences which may increase their learning and their future ability to function as international managers (Keys and Bleicken, 1994, p. 7). In the past the following countries were visited: Indonesia and Singapore, Thailand, Mexico, Chile, China and Hong Kong, India and finally again Indonesia. The learning reported by the group of students who went to Indonesia in 1996 will be presented. </p><p>Pariicipants </p><p>Every year the ISP is thoroughly prepared by a committee of six stu- dents. These committee students are expected to organise the ISP (see also the next section) and to select the other participating students. </p><p>The other 24 students are selected from a group of 40 to 50 students who apply for participation. These applicants write a motivation letter and a research proposal on a case. The selection is based on this written information as well as on two interviews with committee members. Dur- ing the first interview the potential participants are evaluated on personal characteristics, while during the second interview the research proposal is discussed in cooperation with a faculty professor. The 24 students selected are assigned research projects and are therefore referred to as research students. </p><p>Contents </p><p>After having decided upon the country to be visited, the study tour is organised by the committee students. The study tour usually embraces obligatory visits and free-to-choose visits as well as some days of sightsee- ing. The assignments usually aim at giving additional inside information on the country and on the research to be done. They contain visits to, e.g., the central bank, ministries of industry and technology, investment agen- cies, the Dutch embassy and branches of some large Dutch multinational companies. Most of the time is, however, reserved for the research assign- ments of the research students. </p><p>In total 12 research assignments are sought. Each ofthese will have two students cooperating. Participating companies are expected to pay DFL 12,000 (=US$ 7,000) for the research, while the individual students con- tribute DFL 1.500. In return for the research grants the students provide research efforts. This means that during the month of April the research students prepare for the research by i.a. receiving company briefings, conducting desk research, preparing research questions and question- </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>40 1</p><p>1 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>24 JOURNAL OF TEACHING IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS </p><p>naires, searching addresses and key informants and making appointments. During the month of May the foreign country will be visited and the research students will then conduct their investigations there. Most re- search assignments involve gathering information on possibilities of coop- eration or of buying and selling and they usually consist of interviewing company managers and officials. In these aspects the ISP resembles the Ulster University project described by Bell and Brown (1990). The-fter having earned a three-week holiday-the students return to finish their research project by writing a final report for the company. After having successfully finished their report for the company, the research students are rewarded by the faculty with seven and the committee students with nine credit points (each point meaning a week of work). </p><p>Multicitltural Awareness </p><p>Before the visit to the country, the committee and the research students prepare a report on the country. Moreover, they visit workshops on scien- tific research as well as guest lectures and group building weekends and they follow a language course. During this preparatory period they also read and write on i.a. the politics, culture, economics and demographic structure of the country. During this fust period students mainly learn multicultural aspects from courses and reading, while during the actual study tour they will learn from experience as they will be involved in frequent contacts with people and managers from the country to be visited. Both approaches to teaching (the cultural aspects of) international manage- ment, namely courses and experience (Vielba and Edelshain, 1995, p. 38), are therefore incorporated in the ISP. </p><p>Delivery Method </p><p>Two faculty professors assist the organising committee in preparing the workshops and in deciding on the guest lectures. The most important thing is, however, the supervision of the research. This means that they discuss the research assignments with the students, comment on written research proposals, assist the students in doing the research methodologically sound, suggest extensions or reductions in the research done and, finally, assist in supervising the progress and the quality of the research and its content. During the preparation period and the visit to the country the accompanying professors refrain from interfering with the organisation. The desired attitude of the professors is to be service oriented: the delivery method is to follow the lead of a learning group. </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>40 1</p><p>1 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>Henk von Eije 25 </p><p>MARKETING AND MANAGING THE ISP </p><p>The success of the ISP highly depends on the willingness of companies to fund a research proposal. The willingness of companies mainly depends on the country to be visited, on the marketing efforts of the students and on the quality of the project. These three aspects will be discussed here, as well as some operational aspects as these latter contribute to the quality offered to the participating students. </p><p>Country Choice </p><p>The country is chosen by the committee students during a process in which they first reduce potential countries to be visited to about ten. For these countries the committee sends questionnaires to several contacts (Ilke country specialists and embassies), while each of the committee members reads recent information on one or two countries. After having received the answers on the questionnaires each committee member advo- cates for a visit to his or her country and defends that country from verbal attacks of other committee members during a special selection day. At the end of that day three or four countries remain. These countries are pre- sented to the advisory board. Taking into account the advice of this board as well as trying to avoid countries to be visited by competing Dutch student organizations one country is finally chosen. </p><p>It is almost needless to say that the country choice is a high risk one as for example political changes may endanger the whole project. Once this choice is made, it cannot easily be undone: all marketing efforts and all further investments are aimed at that specific country. In this way the students also Ieam to perceive the risk of making investment choices. </p><p>Marketing of the Project </p><p>As more student organizations may compete for the same research proposals and because The Netherlands is a small (though international oriented) country, committee students first signal their choice to other student organizations. Then the committee prepares an eight page in- formation folder on the project and on the opportunities companies may find in that country. Then they inform several editors (of La. newspapers, bank relation journals, newsletters on the country) and several institutions like the chamber of commerce, industry associations, embassies, The Netherlands Economic Information Service and export associations. Be- sides these general information outlets, the students also use a database of </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>40 1</p><p>1 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>26 JOURNAL OF TEACHING IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS </p><p>companies related to the Faculty. Of about 150 of these companies they then read the annual accounts. If these accounts indicate that these compa- nies are working in that country or are willing to expand their business in that region, the companies will be mailed (with an inclusion of the citation from the annual account and the country folder). After a week these companies are contacted by telephon...</p></li></ul>

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