Putting the World into Place

As business schools customize their individual global strategies, together they’re developing a more complete and comprehensive picture of global business.
Putting the World into Place

With demand for global education on the rise, business schools are doing more to expose students and faculty to the world’s major and emerging markets. But as more programs expand into the global arena, they must compete not only regionally, but internationally. That raises the stakes—and the pressure—for business schools everywhere, says Peter Rodriguez, director of the University of Virginia’s Darden Center for Global Initiatives (DCGI) in Charlottesville.

“The world has gotten a whole lot bigger for business schools,” says Rodriguez. “We’re going to see more business schools expand their reach into new markets and offer new products and programs. The difficulty will be, how do they do that while schools everywhere—particularly in growth markets like China and India—are doing the same thing?”

To make globalization more manageable and meaningful, many business schools are adopting strategies that tap into their existing resources—many of which are already surprisingly close to home. They’re broadening their international networks, embedding study abroad within courses, and infusing their programs with global perspectives. Most important, they are creating more multinational campuses, so that students and faculty can experience global environments before they ever leave home.

“How do business schools expand into new markets, while schools everywhere—particularly in growth markets like China and India—are doing the same thing?”
—Peter Rodriguez, University of Virginia

1. Leveraging the Local

While some universities have built campuses on foreign soil, the economic downturn has made such cross-continental options less attractive. Already some U.S. schools are scaling back their plans to set up shop overseas.

Most recently, in response to lower-than-expected enrollments, Michigan State University downsized its plans to open a campus for undergraduate programs in Dubai, opting instead for a satellite office. Five American universities that partnered to deliver education at the locally sponsored Songdo Global University Campus in Seoul, South Korea, are now rethinking that ambition even as construction continues.

Given the uncertain economic future, many schools are instead shoring up their regional expertise to make themselves more attractive to international partners. That trend is sparking a robust market for academic trade—not only of students and faculty, but also of region-specific research and access to local corporate contacts.

That approach is working for Germany’s European School of Management and Technology. With its campuses in Berlin and Cologne, ESMT has positioned itself as an authority on the German and larger European economies, says Zoltán Antal-Mokos, ESMT’s associate dean of degree programs. The school works with its academic partners to send MBA students on two-week study trips to China or India and EMBA students to South America, Turkey, or Russia. But some of its strongest ties are with corporations close to home, such as Deutsche Bank, Daimler, Lufthansa, BMW, and ThyssenKrupp.

“Germany has built and operated an economic system that combines the best aspects of private enterprise and state support—the Soziale Marktwirtschaft or social market economy,” says Antal-Mokos. “This distinctly German philosophy of how to conduct business filters through to those we teach and work with on a continuous basis.”

A local approach may prove especially successful for schools with specialized knowledge of emerging regions. “Western schools are compelled to expose students to markets in China and India. That means that schools in China and India have knowledge about their regions that is an asset that the rest of the world needs,” says Rodriguez.

Bing Xiang, dean of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, based in Beijing, China, hopes that Rodriguez is right. With additional campuses in Shanghai and Guangzhou, CKGSB is focusing its strategy on the Chinese market. Ninety-eight percent of CKGSB’s faculty are Chinese-born, Chinese-speaking, U.S.-trained academics, who can study the Chinese economy with no need for cultural acclimation. This year, CKGSB added two new modules on China and international business to its curriculum, and it plans new China-specific modules on topics such as branding and innovation.

More than 20 of the school’s faculty members dedicate their research activities to the Chinese market alone—it takes that much manpower to cover the rapid, real-time structural changes in China’s economy, says Xiang. “We’re now ready to share our knowledge with the global audience,” he adds. “It’s like a global IPO!”

Bingsheng Teng is associate dean and associate professor of strategic management at CKGSB, and also is a professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He returned to China four years ago to teach with the same syllabus he used in the U.S. But he, like other CKGSB faculty, is accumulating a store of Chinese-specific case studies and research. “Now, 50 percent of my syllabus is focused on Chinese cases, most of which I’ve written myself,” says Teng. “Our mission is to create knowledge, not to be the disseminator of someone else’s knowledge.”

Xiang realizes that such a China-focused strategy comes with limitations. To expose students to the nuances of management in the West, CKGSB partners with three schools in Europe, three in Asia, and four in the United States. CKGSB and each of its partner schools host students from the other for two-week consultation projects.

“Few, if any, schools are well-positioned to cover many fronts in a sophisticated way. It would require a ‘supercapability,’” Xiang says. “We know our strengths, and we know what value we bring to the table.”

2. Becoming a Regional Hub

Some schools develop a competitive edge by taking advantage of the international nature of their home cities. It’s a strategy that’s working for the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles and the University of Miami School of Business Administration in Florida.

USC Marshall first set its sights on Asia in 1978, when it created an MBA program designed specifically for Asian executives. Since that first program in 1978, the school has built a network of alumni throughout Asia. Its location in Los Angeles—a hub for Asian students, faculty, executives, and businesses—has allowed it to attract a diverse student body and develop a wide range of expertise, says Richard Drobnick, who directs USC’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), as well as the Association of Pacific Rim Universities’ World Institute. “If we were located in New York, we would have focused on Europe,” Drobnick says.

The University of Miami, on the other hand, takes advantage of Miami’s status as an active hub for Latin American businesses and executives. For example, the school delivers its Master of Science in Professional Management entirely in Spanish, to attract executives from countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. Last fall, it began offering an executive program in Puerto Rico.

Adopting a hub-oriented global specialty—taking a deep rather than broad approach—makes globalization more manageable, focused, and self-sustaining, says Barbara Kahn, dean of UM’s business school. Faculty who teach in UM’s EMBA in Puerto Rico bring the ideas they learn from those executives back to their Miami classrooms. After students graduate, they return to the school to share their expertise. This establishes a pattern of “cross-pollination”—a constant flow of knowledge between the school and its Latin American contacts, says Kahn.

“Our students go on to run Latin American divisions of multinational corporations. Many come back to the school to speak, serve as student mentors, and take part in our biannual Global Forums,” says Kahn. “We find the culturally diverse backgrounds of our alumni set our standards high for developing a strong international business curriculum—their influence makes us think globally at all times.”

3. Stepping Up Recruitment

So that their campus communities better reflect the diversity of the global community, many schools are stepping up their international recruitment efforts. Their objective is to attract faculty and students with a wide range of world experiences, citizenship, and native languages.

European schools, especially, are well-positioned to attract international students and faculty, given their proximity to other European countries, Asia, and the Middle East. Nyenrode Business Universiteit in the Netherlands, for example, puts special emphasis on international recruiting, says Désirée Van Gorp, director of the International MBA program. She notes that the typical intake for its full-time MBA program is 85 percent to 90 percent international.

ESMT in Germany recently completed a recruiting campaign, in which it placed advertisements in international publications such as The Economist and the Financial Times, as well as regional publications like Newsweek Russia and Vedomosti, a Russian-language publication from the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. The school also offers region-specific scholarships to applicants from the Americas, Central and Eastern Europe, Andalusia, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

“Our class of 2010 was our most international to date, with an intake of 40 students from 21 nations,” says Antal-Mokos. “Currently, 83 percent of our professors are from outside Germany.”

Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School in Belgium also makes a concerted effort to recruit international students and faculty. The school’s recruitment efforts are bolstered by a special tax status set up by the Belgian government specifically for foreign researchers. Foreign researchers benefit, because their income is subject only to the tax conditions prevailing in their home countries, explains Philippe Haspeslagh, Vlerick’s dean.

The school also conducts international MBA recruitment fairs. As a result, international applications to Vlerick Leuven are up 288 percent compared to four years ago, says Haspeslagh. In its full-time MBA program, 88.5 percent of students come from outside the region, representing 38 countries—compared to 33.7 percent in its larger student body.

“Our mission is to create knowledge, not to be the disseminator of someone else’s knowledge.”
—Bingsheng Teng, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business

“A full-time MBA with no dominating nationality is an international experience in and of itself, and a kick-start to cross-cultural management teaching and discussion,” says Haspeslagh. “The essence of our international strategy is not in the periphery, but in what we call becoming ‘international in the core.’”

4. Making Everything Global

Many schools work to integrate and embed global content throughout their entire academic enterprise, rather than teach it via standalone courses or study tours. USC Marshall, for example, recruits international students and faculty, encourages cross-national faculty collaborations, integrates global case studies and consulting projects into courses, and embeds students’ international travel within courses.

Freshmen at Marshall can apply to participate in the Global Leadership Program, a two-course sequence that includes study, research, and a trip to Shanghai or Beijing, where students visit companies and meet with executives and government officials. Undergraduates also can take the Experiential Corporate Learning Program (ExCEL), which includes a ten-day trip to a major city in Asia to meet with executives.

Its full-time MBA students are required to take Pacific Rim International Management Education, or PRIME, a course that concludes with a ten-day trip to a city in the Pacific Rim or Latin America. Students in the evening MBA for Professionals and Managers take part in PM.GLOBE, a semester long macroeconomics course that includes a week overseas.

The school’s international student body becomes a significant asset in courses like this, says Drobnick—when students are planning for a trip to Japan, for example, the professors make sure to ask their Japanese students to contribute their knowledge to class discussions and research projects.

Nyenrode, too, has redesigned its MBA curriculum to embed international experiences, says Van Gorp. It has added three Global Experience modules in which students travel to countries in the Americas, Asia, and Europe as part of a larger course. The school also is in the process of launching a Global Leadership Program that will offer students incentives to participate in global leadership and career development activities.

International experience is now mandatory at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis. The school provides a diverse array of study abroad opportunities to its 2,300 undergraduates and 2,000 MBA students by working with 29 partner institutions and 75 corporate partners. It also works through the university’s Learning Abroad Center, which provides access to 50 other departmental and institutional contacts. In the 2009–2010 school year, those diverse connections enabled the school to send students to 32 countries on programs that ranged from two weeks to a full academic year.

This year, the school also is implementing its Global Discovery Program, in which all second-year MBA students take an on-campus course for half of a semester before they travel to one U.S. city and three cities outside the U.S. They will then return for a symposium in February 2011 where they will share their newfound insights with global business leaders.

5. Establishing a System

Because business schools want their globalization efforts to work together toward an overarching objective, many are developing systems to help them track the comings and goings of students, faculty, alumni, and executive guest speakers.

The Darden School set up an electronic calendar to track everyone’s travel schedules, consulting work, and research collaborations, as well as visits from international alumni and guest speakers. “With the calendar, we can make sure we’re reaching the right people in the right economies. We can keep track of where we’re engaging and set goals for the future,” says Rodriguez.

USC Marshall takes full advantage of the larger university’s Office of Globalization, which has established a network of satellite offices in countries around the world, including Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Korea, and China. The university pays for these offices, says Drobnick, but the business school is the department that uses them the most to arrange the logistics for overseas trips.

At the Carlson School, students and faculty coordinate their activities through a centralized international office. While faculty advisors aren’t required to go through the office for every activity, it provides a central point of contact for the business school, the university, and the larger business community. “A centralized office is critical to making sure that everything we do aligns with and enhances the international identity of the school,” says Anne D’Angelo, assistant dean of international programs.

The Carlson School also provides an online, four-module course called International Experience 101, which all students must complete upon beginning their programs. The modules outline the international study requirements, offer guidance on courses students should take, introduce them to the Learning Abroad Center, cover academic planning and career considerations, and discuss financing options for travel abroad.

Globalization, Broad and Deep

No matter what strategies business schools are finding most effective, the model of globalization that most schools are choosing incorporates both deeper regional connections and broader global reach. What started as simple exchange programs years ago are evolving into complex partnerships that support multicultural consulting teams, joint degree programs, and cross-continental courses, says D’Angelo of the Carlson School.

“This process is dynamic and ever-changing,” she says. “We’re open to new and different ideas from our institutional and corporate partners. There’s no prescribed formula for this, and there’s value in a range of experiences.”

Xiang of CKGSB agrees that, given the increasing global interactions among schools, business education in ten years may be far different from business education today. “I often say that we need to go to the moon to look at the Earth, because only then can we have a true paradigm shift,” he says. “We can look at companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook—they’re revolutionary. Like them, we cannot be constrained by the key activities of business schools today. There are new models coming. That’s why we need to go to the moon and look at Earth, so we can see that the whole sky is wide open.”