In light of International Education Week, we at Aperian Global have been thinking about the immense benefits of studying in another culture, and the impact it has not only on the individual who studies abroad, but how it helps drive innovation, foster global understanding, and open new markets.
Recently, one of our consultants, Dr. Daniel Kerr, had the opportunity to sit down with our client and partner at Kean University and reflect on how our flagship product, GlobeSmart, supports the international learning process.
Client Richard Bahner has been a Professor at Kean University in New Jersey for seven years, where he teaches global business.
Dr. Kerr: I understand you use the GlobeSmart learning platform in the Kean University Global Business Practicum. Can you tell us a little about this?
Professor Bahner: We have the ability to operate in 5 different countries. We send the student in-country to work with a business, and put together a strategic plan to amplify the business… More and more, my tendency is to put [GlobeSmart] in the type of programs and projects that students are going to be doing so that they can be fluent in knowing how to deal with cross-cultural issues.
If we have Chinese students coming, I have them [use GlobeSmart to] understand and look at how US students think culturally about making business decisions. I have them find out through the GlobeSmart process where the biggest gaps are between where they think culturally, and where the [local business] organization [that the student will do their practicum at] lies culturally… It’s very helpful.
Dr. Kerr: I understand you were previously working with a group of students doing a practicum in Germany. Can you talk a bit about that?
Professor Bahner: We had 6 students from Hof University in Germany as part of the team, and 6 students from Kean in the US as part of the team. They basically went through the [GlobeSmart] process of understanding how [each other] thinks culturally, and how to start flexing towards the local culture. It helped us with the speed at which we were managing through the business organization… and helped them understand exactly how they should think about moving a business into the US. We did a board presentation and it was very well received by management, both in the US and in Germany.
Dr. Kerr: What are some specific examples of how the students used the GlobeSmart platform?
Professor Bahner: [GlobeSmart] helped students understand themselves and how they operate on a cultural basis… Culture shapes how you make a decision. If you can flex towards how local people are making decisions, they recognize that and are much more cooperative and forthcoming with ideas that they have as to what should be done [in the organization].
Dr. Kerr: Did the students also use the German Culture Guide?
Professor Bahner: Yes, and we actually shared that information with the Professor we were working with at Hof University.
Dr. Kerr: Interesting. I know that includes information on how to communicate effectively with Germans, how to manage people in Germany, how to give and receive feedback in Germany… It’s very different than the United States!
Professor Bahner: Yes. I’m of German heritage and speak a little German, so that helped with facilitation as well.
Dr. Kerr: What was your student’s overall reaction to the GlobeSmart platform?
Professor Bahner: It was very positive, each time we’ve had a practicum project moving a company from the US into another country. A big part of that is understanding what that country is focused on and how that culture affects their thinking. I want the students to understand that and engage with GlobeSmart to know where their cultural gaps are. They put together a plan to address the three largest cultural gaps and I help coach them through how to shift their thinking.
Interested in learning more about preparing students for an experience abroad? Watch our on-demand webinar which provides recommendations to universities enrolling foreign students, as well as international students planning to study in the United States.
Richard Bahner is an Adjunct Professor at Kean University in New Jersey. He teaches global human resources, global business strategy, and cross-cultural management and communications for Kean’s Global MBA program. He is also president of CDNA Distrbutors NA LLC, which offers a suite of career products for schools, organizations, and businesses.
Dr. Daniel Basil Kerr is an Intercultural Solutions Consultant at Aperian Global and an adjunct faculty member at the College of Business at Stony Brook University and St. Joseph’s College. He partners with organizations and universities to develop cultural competence and inclusive work and study environments. Dan is a CPA and holds a Master’s Degree in Accounting from the CW Post School of Accountancy, as well as a PhD in Business Education/Cultural Studies from New York University. He is also a published poet.