The Internationalization of Management Textbooks: A Survey of the International Components of North American Management Textbooks and Support Materials

Article excerpt


International content in management textbooks remains seriously under-represented and poorly integrated into the core concepts. A cursory survey of textbooks in the general business disciplines indicates that, except for a few noteworthy exceptions, little space is devoted to international issues; international materials are relegated to the "also ran" sections; the core concepts and theories are not well informed by international research and there is no textbook written from a truly global rather than home country perspective. On an optimistic note, there appears to be a recent push towards including international sections into the main chapters of textbooks.

While this is an important first step in internationalizing the curriculum, more integration of international materials into the main discussions is needed to fully reflect the marketplace realities and international business research. In addition, there seems to be a wholly unmet need for textbooks written from a truly global perspective rather than those written from the vantage point of a specific country. Given the imperatives of the publication industry which favours a guaranteed home-based market to make publishing ventures feasible, a creative approach to textbook delivery seems to be warranted. Books must achieve the dual objectives of being relevant to the local market and at the same time provide an international perspective. This paper calls for textbook writers to become fully conversant with international research, to evolve beyond the "North America as centre of the Universe perspective" and to seriously rethink the basic premise of current textbooks.

Textbooks, cases and supporting materials are critical resources in the education of students and executives. These materials both reflect the state of the art of the field and support the dissemination of the field's know how. This paper addresses the role that textbooks and other support materials are playing in the internationalization of management education. The primary emphasis is on surveying the textbooks used in the mainstream business administration fields of marketing, organization behaviour, production management, accounting, and finance. General survey textbooks in international business were also surveyed to determine if these textbooks adequately fill the pedagogical gaps left by other textbooks. (The list of books surveyed is given in Appendix 1.) Only the most popular introductory textbooks were surveyed given the large number available. The paper evaluates the role of the publication industry in the process of internationalizing management education and suggests future directions in which this industry can help achieve the field's internationalization goals.


There are various paradigms that can be used to structure the internationalization of management education. They all revolve around the basic theme of integrating global/international concepts into the business curriculum. Most approaches to internationalization attempt to incorporate international materials into the core undergraduate and graduate business curriculum (Nehrt, 1987). This appears to be motivated by an attempt to ensure, in keeping with the AACSB 1979 guidelines, that "every student should be exposed to the international dimension through one or more element of the curriculum." Given the acknowledged shortage of internationalized faculty (Nehrt, 1987) - those equipped through training or research to teach the international dimensions of the core topics - the need to have high quality "internationalized" materials becomes even more critical. In this regard, textbooks and supporting materials play a pivotal role in internationalizing the curriculum. The extent to which international concepts are integrated into teaching support materials will therefore strongly condition the effectiveness of any overall internationalization effort.

The discussion that follows lays out a framework for assessing the degree of internationalization present in management textbooks. …