Models of International Business Education
What exactly is an International Business Education? Is it simply studying at an institution overseas? Does it mean studying business in a different language? Is it about gaining global experience while studying overseas?
The answers to these questions were the nucleus of SolBridge’s last special lecture of the spring semester when Dr. Ira Weiss, Dean at the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University talked about the different models of International Business Education, their pros and cons as well as the ones which he believes are the best models.
“Students must understand other cultures along with academic mastery,” Weiss said as he gave an overview of having an international educational experience. “Language competency of more than one language at your fingertips languages is important, but also the language of where you are going.”
He also talked about the importance of cross-cultural learning, something that SolBridge students experience every day as well as the experience itself of living and studying overseas.
“The experience of being in a different culture is my favorite one,” he said, “and the meaning it has for someone being in a different culture.
He covered the four different models of an international business education—Traditional, Stand Alone, Partnerships/Coalitions, and MOOCS (Massive Open Online Course)—and looked at the pros and cons for each one.
Although the traditional model sets its own curriculum and has an international, it is a short course that is taught in the students’ native language. However, the students do not integrate with other students, so the overall international experience is limited and questionable.
On the other hand, the Stand Alone/Global Expansion model has become more popular over the years. Campuses are set up in different countries and there is uniformity with one curriculum and one faculty. There is uniform language competency and the school controls the curriculum, so it’s an easy model to follow. More importantly, it’s a managed global experience and highly managed.
“Partnerships coalitions are the most formidable,” he said, speaking of the third business model.
“Relationships are established between select schools and there is an articulated curriculum which offers double degrees.”
Some of the advantages include being able to study at multiple schools as well as the internship opportunities which are involved. However, he questioned the economics of a second degree given the cost, missed work and time away.
“Do employers really value a second degree?” he asked. “Having a second degree is a question we can ponder.”
The last model, MOOCS, is becoming incredibly popular in the United States. It’s possible for a professor from a school like Harvard teach 100,000 students online. Still in the developmental stages, culture has a strong impact on student participation.
He believes that the two models which offer the most are the Partnerships/Coalitions model and the Stand Alone Model and gave examples for how these two models are currently being employed.
“Students gain double degrees in the Partnerships/Coalitions and the student becomes competent in at least two languages,” he said. “More importantly, students are exposed to multiple cultures, they are able to establish an international network and there is a lot of faculty interaction.”
The Stand Alone model is also quite good for a variety of reasons including flexibility and mobility for students as well as the control schools have managing the curriculum.
No matter what model is chosen, what is important in the end is the experience a student gets for preparing them in today’s competitive business world.
“One of the most important things is for students to truly gain global experience and to see how business is conducted in a different culture,” he said.
Weiss also believes that MOOCS will have an impact on all these models in the future. Additionally, technology is impacting all these models as well as visa and local government regulations which can restrict student movement.
“Accreditation is also very important,” he said. “It is a badge of honor.”
As these models continue to evolve and change to meet the demands of an ever-changing business world, ultimately what drives institutions and the students who study at them is the return on the investment.
“What works best for the institution and the students is what is really important,” he said.