An Inside Look at Teaching International Business at Northeastern

Categories: Global Mindset, International Education

GlobeSmart, our flagship online learning platform, has been used in academia for years. This year GlobeSmart is featured in the eighth edition of International Management Behavior: Global and Sustainable Leadership, published by Cambridge University Press.

We had the privilege to talk to one of the authors of the textbook, Professor Harry Lane of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University, and ask why he selected GlobeSmart as his tool of choice for teaching international business.

Q: This is the first time you have included GlobeSmart in the International Management Behavior: Global and Sustainable Leadership textbook. Did you use other tools before GlobeSmart?

A: I used Hofstede’s cultural tools for a while, and my co-author Martha Maznevski and I developed the Cultural Orientation Framework when we were at the Ivey Business School. Martha developed the framework into a questionnaire in multiple languages, although not as many languages as GlobeSmart comes in. We used this tool for years, but it was awkward and a long process to get the results and then distribute them to the students. Unlike GlobeSmart, which generates results instantly and directly to the user, our tool required professors to get the results and then disperse it to the students. It was much more time-intensive.

Q: Were there other reasons you decided to use GlobeSmart?

A: We decided to use GlobeSmart in the 8th edition of our textbook for many reasons. It has a much more professional look and feel than anything I have used before. It’s easier for both professors and students to use; the platform is user-friendly, and the reports are simple to read. Students enjoy how interactive the Culture Guides are, as they can watch videos, take quizzes, and search questions.

I value how large the knowledge base is—the Culture Guides cover over 95 countries. The topics are very relevant to students joining the workforce soon: cultural communication styles, presentation styles, and business etiquette, to name a few. Plus, a lot of leading companies with global operations use this tool, so it is good to get students associated with it now.

GlobeSmart is very dynamic and continually being updated, which is very important as the world is evolving so rapidly.

Q: Do you adapt how you teach with GlobeSmart in your Executive MBA classes compared to your undergraduate classes?

A: I have all of my students take some time and explore the GlobeSmart platform. I have students take their GlobeSmart Profile and find out their work style. Next, I will get them to compare their results with the work style averages of one or two countries they are familiar with and know well.

With undergraduates, I will have a whole class devoted to taking the GlobeSmart Profile and reviewing results. We take time to do exercises, and I often have Joyce Lee (Aperian Global GlobeSmart Engagement Manager) come in to discuss dimensions and debrief. I give students a lot of time to process. In our next class, we will reflect on how we can apply what we have learned about our work styles and the work styles of other cultures. We discuss how we can use our new knowledge.

In my MBA classes, we move faster. We have a brief overview of the cultural dimensions, a general introduction to GlobeSmart, and students can ask questions. After that, we jump into using GlobeSmart in a business case, and students get to learn how GlobeSmart can be used to identify valuable insights into behaviors.

I want to add GlobeSmart is used more widely than just in textbooks. Post-Master’s students often access GlobeSmart Culture Guides to prepare for business trips abroad. Students who are not working yet tend to use it for course presentations, business projects that require a plan to enter a new market, and background information on different cultures.

Q: Are your students often surprised by their GlobeSmart Profile results?

A: Some are. Students who have immigrated from other countries tend to be more in the middle of the dimension scales and don’t tend to be surprised. Students who grew up in the culture/country we are looking at and deviate from the work style average can be surprised.

I show students my Profile to help explain how common it can be to deviate from the work style average. It starts a conversation around style switching and how we can adapt our work style depending on where we are in the world, to communicate and do business successfully.

Q: Can you tell us more about the backgrounds of your students?

A: It is very rare for me to have a student with no international experience. Students who take my classes generally have experience or at least an interest in international travel and business. I also tend to have a lot of international students in my classes.

The undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Science in International Business program are required to do a co-op, so many of my students in this stream have done co-ops abroad. Many of my students are first or second-generation immigrants, so they have a very unique perspective on culture.

All of my MBA and Executive MBA students are older and tend to have a lot of international work experience. Most have a job with an international aspect to it, and that is why they are in the program. Most travel internationally for work.

Q: Do you have any tips or advice for other professors using GlobeSmart?

A: I encourage professors just to dig in. Once you have your license, take some time to explore the platform on your own.

After you take your GlobeSmart Profile, reflect on past experiences either working abroad or working with colleagues from different cultures. See if your Profile helps explain work dynamics or situations where there were communication or behavior discrepancies.

I recommend that professors have students use GlobeSmart in a team setting. It’s an excellent way for students to get to know one another and see different perspectives. Have students read a case study—either the Nestle Malaysia case or the Delta Beverage Group case study, which are both in the eighth edition of the International Management Behavior: Global and Sustainable Leadership textbook. Have students discuss the case study while accessing GlobeSmart and thinking about it from different angles. Split the students into groups, and try to make the groups as diverse as possible. It will make the discussion much more exciting and varied.

Overall, GlobeSmart is fun, professional, easy to use, and best of all, students enjoy it!


About the Author

Harry W. Lane
Professor of International Business and Strategy at D'Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern

Harry (Henry) W. Lane is a Professor of International Business and Strategy at D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, Boston. His research and teaching interests include executing global strategy, cross-cultural management, organizational learning, and managing change. His Doctorate in Organizational Behavior is from the Harvard Business School. He serves as a faculty member for university and corporate courses globally. In 2009, he received the Academy of Management, International Management Division’s Outstanding Educator Award for continuous excellence and innovation in teaching international management; and also the 2009 Academy of Management Review Decade Award for the co-authored article ‘An Organizational Learning Framework: From Intuition to Institution.’