Academic journal article Management International Review

Crossing Borders in International Business Education: German and Polish Students at the European University Viadrina

Academic journal article Management International Review

Crossing Borders in International Business Education: German and Polish Students at the European University Viadrina

Article excerpt

Abstract

* The internationalization of business education raises the question of the effectiveness of cross-cultural business education. On the basis of an empirical study at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, this paper investigates the effects of cultural diversity on business education.

Key Results

* There are significant differences between German and Polish students' motivations, perceptions and attitudes. Despite these differences, the two student groups do not differ markedly in their satisfaction with their studies.

* Students generally exhibit a great degree of interest in foreign cultures; cultural diversity is seen as rather positive. However, there appear to be only limited contacts between Polish and German students in their day-to-day life.

* German and Polish Students' evaluations of the two nationalities differ markedly from each other. For instance, both national student groups are more critical of their own people than of the respective other group and both groups see the opposite student group at the Viadrina in a more favorable light than the opposite nation.

Introduction

Globalization poses a challenge not only to corporate practice but also to business education. Today's corporations are in need of highly mobile, open-minded and culturally adaptive graduates. Students themselves recognize that global markets and globalized firms will provide the most likely environment for their future careers. Therefore, ,,the cream of prospective full-time students are increasingly looking for international programmes and international experience." (1) Further, new AACSB accreditation standards require US business schools to cover global issues within both undergraduate and MBA curricula (AACSB 1999). Finally, rankings of business schools increasingly give weight to internationalization as one of the relevant criteria (Financial Times 2001).

As a result, for several years business schools around the world have sought to internationalize their curricula, their faculties and their student bodies (Arpan et al. 1993). Many schools have set up specialized programs which incorporate language components, sojourns at foreign universities or internships in foreign countries. Some of these programs are especially directed at attracting overseas students. A further relatively new phenomenon is the setting up of overseas satellite campuses and the development of cross-border joint ventures by some of the leading international business schools.

This rapid internationalization raises the question of the effectiveness of cross-cultural education. Unfortunately, however, our knowledge of the impact of cultural diversity on business education is limited. Research on Cross-cultural education in the past has focused on the education of minority and immigrant groups (see Banks/Banks 1995). Recently, there has been increasing interest in the internationalization of business-school curricula in different countries (Karnak/ Schermerhorn 1999). The transfer of business programs to different regions of the world has also gained attention (Nasierowski 1998). Finally, some studies look at the effectiveness of exchange programs and the experiences of exchange students (Stroebe et al. 1988, Ryan/Twibell 2000). However, there is a scarcity of studies of the effects of cultural diversity on business education and on international business students' attitudes towards other cultures. (2)

The current paper reports the findings of an empirical study into the similarities and differences between German and Polish students in the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. The ,,Viadrina" was established in the wake of German reunification as part of the reconstruction of higher education in Eastern Germany. However, the initiative to set up a university on the banks of the river Oder, on the border to Poland, was also backed by political motives. …

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