Integrating International Aspects in Business Courses

Article excerpt

Educators in Colleges of Business face continual pressure to include international aspects of their disciplines when teaching their courses. This paper suggests several easy, practical, and interesting ways to supplement text material on international topics. These suggestions apply particularly to courses which benefit from anecdotes and examples, such as Management and Marketing, but may also be useful in other areas.

Educators in Colleges of Business are under continual pressure to include international aspects of their disciplines when teaching their courses. This pressure comes from three dominant sources. First, both institutions and the general public are increasingly aware of international business' growing influence and importance ("A Way to Measure," 1999; Krugman, 1993). This is evident in the immense pressure on many businesses to compete globally (Cavusgil, 1991; Ohmae, 1905; Parkhurst, 1998). Keeping a business curriculum current is critical to graduates' job placement and a program's reputation and continued ability to attract students (Celis, 1993). Exposure to different situations likely to be encountered in international business and behavioral suggestions to use in various scenarios thus become necessary and desirable elements to be included along with more traditional course material. Second, explosive growth in internet commerce has opened global business opportunities to a vast number of smaller companies and individuals who would not otherwise have been so involved. Finally, realizing the extent of this international influence in business, accrediting bodies exhort colleges and universities to include coverage of international business aspects in their guidelines for both graduate and undergraduate coursework (e.g., American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, 1999). These pressures are not accompanied by comprehensive suggestions on how best to accomplish the objective of covering international material. A quick glance through almost any current business text reveals a significant emphasis on international aspects across disciplines - accounting, economics, finance, management, and marketing. Nonetheless, the relative unfamiliarity of international aspects compared with more traditional topics, and the lag between events and their reflection in textbooks result in this material being somewhat incomplete. This same situation exists in other areas of change in undergraduate business education. Thus, new information lends to be "imperfectly reflected" (Stiglitz, 1993, p. 27). Additionally, professors searching for something novel to enliven text material may be quite frustrated. Our objective is to provide a few suggestions on relatively easy ways to integrate international coverage in business courses. These suggestions apply particularly to classes in which course material can be qualitatively augmented by examples and anecdotes, such as certain management and marketing courses, but may be relative in other academic areas as well.

Practical Suggestions for Integrating International Aspects

Many professors find an excellent resource for help on international topics facing them each day in class. Students - international and otherwise - can contribute substantially to classroom discussions. International students constitute a sizeable contingent at many universities, at both undergraduate and graduate levels. These students obviously possess a wealth of information on business in their home country, particularly if they have worked for companies there. Even if not, they have had experience dealing with business organizations, thereby vicariously learning some of their practices. Such students' information grows in its potential contribution as they increase their knowledge of domestic business practices. That is, the longer they live and study in the U.S., especially if they are working, the more bases for comparison, anecdotes, etc., they will be able to provide. This is also true if they have traveled or lived in countries other than their home country or the U. …