1.0 INTRODUCTION: LEARNING TO LEARN AND LEARNING TO PUT KNOWLEDGE INTO ACTION
As I was writing this paper, I realized that there was an inconsistency between the title of the paper I was asked to prepare and to present, and some of the comments that I was going to make on the subject.(2) These comments reflected my belief about what should be happening in educational institutions - learning, not just teaching. Teaching, as it is traditionally thought of, is one way in which learning takes place, but it is not the only way - nor should it be the only way. The basic premise of this paper is that multiple methods for facilitating learning are necessary.
Continuing to make my assumptions and beliefs clear, another orientation that will be expressed in this paper is the need to learn how to put knowledge into action - how to use what is already known, rather than simply accumulating more information that might not be used either. After all, as B. Joseph White, Dean of the University of Michigan Business School has stated, "Business is not just an intellectual game, it's an action game."(3)
This 'learning to put knowledge into action' orientation does not suggest halting the accumulation of knowledge or stopping the sharing of this new knowledge but, rather, it suggests the need to increase the emphasis on the action part of the game. International management educators and business schools need to increase their efforts to develop in their students the ability to use knowledge in the practice of international management.
This concern with putting knowledge into action, coupled with an interest in how to learn while in action, has increased in the past year for the author as a result of various teaching experiences. The subtitle reflects some of the "experiments" with pedagogical techniques that have been incorporated into, and are being considered for, the International Management Behavior course at the Western Business School in an effort to improve students' ability to function effectively in international business.
Finally, the last orientation the author wants to identify is that learning is a life-long activity that should not come to a stop upon graduation from business school. Business schools should not bear the total responsibility for preparing people for international business. The individual bears a major responsibility for his or her continuing education and skill development, and employers have a responsibility as well in preparing people to function in the globalized economic environment. These three groups - individuals, schools and employers - may have to meet the challenge through some form of long-term partnership.
This paper represents an initial attempt to put into writing some of the author's recent reflections on ways to improve the learning of some important international management skills, and some tentative conclusions about directions in which to start moving. As such, this paper should be considered "thoughts in progress" which are preliminary in nature and which may undergo revision.
2.0 THE EDUCATIONAL TASK: TO KNOW OR TO DO?
In the past few years there has been a noticeable increase in interest and activity related to internationalizing management education in North American universities. Conferences have been held across the continent to discuss what should be done and how to do it, and to share experiences. The concern that usually inspires these meetings is something to the effect that businesses in the United States and Canada need to become more competitive globally, and that business schools have to help develop people who can function in the new, globalized economic system. The following is one such statement.
In the 1990s, business enterprises will continue to address the challenge of staying competitive in an increasingly global market environment. Accordingly, business schools need to internationalize their curricula, faculty, and student experiences if they are to remain competitive and relevant (Cavusgil, Schecter and Yaprak, 1992). …