Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Bringing Culture Alive in the Marketing Classroom: Using the Novel Speaker for the Dead to Teach Global Marketing

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Bringing Culture Alive in the Marketing Classroom: Using the Novel Speaker for the Dead to Teach Global Marketing

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

One challenge in teaching international or global marketing courses is to vividly illustrate the importance of cultural differences and, thus, sensitize students who have never been abroad to the important role of culture in global marketing. Cultural misunderstandings can have serious and important consequences in international politics, business, and social encounters.

It can be very hard for Americans students (and professors, for that matter) to think outside of the North American box (Gorn 1997). This is especially true because much marketing research ethnocentrically reflects a U.S. reality (van Raaij 1978). Indeed, Usunier (1993) proposes that the very idea of "marketing" is culture bound, that the concept was "initially and for the most part developed in the United States" (p. 12), as evidenced by reference sources, study subjects, and the origin of the literature which defines it as an area of knowledge. Since much of one's own culture is invisible (Lee 1966), students often have difficulty internalizing cultural concepts when they are taught in the ordinary way in an international marketing course. This is especially true for students who have not ventured very far beyond the confines of their own cultures.

Culture is an integral part of most texts on global or international marketing. Cateora and Graham (2005) devote an entire section of their text, consisting of five chapters, to the cultural environment of global markets. Johansson (2006) includes a chapter on cultural foundations and Czinkota and Ronkainen (2007) devote a chapter to the cultural environment. Usunier and Lee (2005) go a step further and write an entire international marketing text from a cultural perspective. So clearly, teaching cultural concepts is an integral part of the international marketing course. The problem is to make culture come alive in a classroom setting when many students have never been deeply immersed in another culture.

A study abroad experience is a great way to learn about culture (Clarke et al. 2009; Wright and Clarke 2010), but the expense of these programs rules them out for many students (Henthorn, Miller, and Hudson 2001; Munoz, Wood, and Cherrier 2006). Thus, other less expensive techniques for developing a vivid and deep understanding of cultural differences and their importance should be explored.

Experiential learning is sometimes proposed as a way to give students a real life exposure to the importance of culture. Some have suggested that a computer simulation of one type or another be used to develop cultural awareness (e.g., Li, Greenberg, and Nicholls 2007), for example, an international business negotiation simulation (e.g., Culpan 1990). Others (e.g., Punnett 2005) propose experiencing the international business environment through a series of exercises, projects, and cases. Still others suggest that the real-life experiences of students who have been immersed in more than one culture--i.e., foreign students in the class or domestic students who have lived abroad--be used to highlight the importance and effects of culture (Curran-Kelly 2005). Munoz, Wood, and Cherrier (2006) suggest using the Internet to do a cross-cultural collaborative exercise in which classes in different parts of the world complete an exercise, then compare and contrast the results, teasing out cultural similarities and differences.

LITERATURE AND LEARNING

Literature is still another way to help students vividly and deeply experience and understand the importance of key business concepts. Recently, Kimball (2007) used assigned readings in contemporary American literature to teach ethical decision making. Kimball argued that this approach better prepared graduates for the "real world by creating a learning laboratory in which graduates can have the business world come alive as a vicarious experience" (p. 64). Since art often imitates all the variety and complexity of life (Auerbach 1953), works of art can serve as manageable and yet relatively verisimilar data sets to teach marketing concepts and to formulate and test marketing theories. …

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