Academic journal article Business Communication Quarterly

Global Partnerships in Business Communication: An Institutional Collaboration between the United States and Cuba

Academic journal article Business Communication Quarterly

Global Partnerships in Business Communication: An Institutional Collaboration between the United States and Cuba

Article excerpt

Many U.S. universities are developing interinstitutional partnerships in global business communication. Benefits include preparing students for the workplace by immersing them in intercultural projects and increasing the complexity of their understanding of the global economy. Challenges can range from technological constraints and scarce sources to geopolitical factors and varying disciplinary norms. However, global partnerships make faculty and students more aware of and engaged in the global business environment as they learn to communicate more affectively across cultures, critique current business practices, and produce new ways of being in global relation to each other A n interinstitutional partnership between a US. university and Universidad de la Habana in Cuba forms the centerpiece of discussion. Outcomes of this partnership include coauthoring articles in both countries and languages, the creation of a business communication course for graduate students in Cuba, and the development of classroom activities in which selected U.S. and Cuban undergraduate students exchange business documents.

Keywords: global partnerships; civic engagement; Cuba

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PARTNERSHIPS ACROSS CULTURES and greater intercultural awareness are features in the broadening scope of business communication teaching and research. Recent efforts to create joint academic programs across national borders are further indications of our field's recognition that internationalization is imperative. This article begins with a brief review of the business and professional communication literature concerning the importance of cross-cultural competency. To illustrate some themes from this review, the article then describes an institutional collaboration between business communication faculty and students from a comprehensive university in the United States and a national research university in Cuba. This partnership demonstrates a commitment to increasing the globalization of business communication courses, programs, and academic literatures. Specifically, this partnership involves establishing teaching and learning opportunities in developing countries, encouraging the study of a variety of economic systems through scholarship with and about understudied regions and populations. The article concludes by outlining some of the benefits and challenges of teaching and research partnerships in developing countries in general and, more specifically, in relation to the unique case of Cuba.

Clearly, learning intercultural communication skills is vital to our students' success in the increasingly global economic arena in addition to encouraging the reduction of ethnocentrism and an increased value for diversity of all kinds. However, some of the inevitable challenges to these kinds of global partnerships include linguistic and cultural issues, varying education levels of participants, scarce resources, technological constraints, and a host of geopolitical factors. If business communication scholars are to participate in the development of a globally aware and culturally flexible workforce, we must commit ourselves to overcoming these challenges and working successfully with a variety of international partners.

GLOBAL PARTNERSHIPS IN BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

The importance of preparing business communication students for opportunities in global settings is echoed by almost everyone in our field (e.g., Chapel, 1998; Crabtree & Sapp, 2004a; Driskill, 1996; Huckin, 2002; Lovitt, 1999; Sokuvitz, 2002). Expanding global markets make it increasingly necessary for our students to develop skills that can help them succeed in multinational and cross-cultural settings. Consequently, academic programs in the United States have begun to develop coursework and degree programs that focus on specific issues related to international business communication (see Duin, Baer, & Starke-Meyerring, 2001; Duin & Starke-Meyerring, 2004; Rainey, 2004; Robinson & Daigle, 1999-2000). …

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