Internationalization of the Curriculum

By Rugman, Alan M. | Journal of Business Administration, Fall 1992 | Go to article overview

Internationalization of the Curriculum


Rugman, Alan M., Journal of Business Administration


1.0 INTRODUCTION

The starting premise of this paper is that in order to internationalize the curriculum it is necessary to internationalize the faculty. The members of the faculty in a business school represent its assets; they are intelligent and knowledgeable people, experts in their own areas, and all potentially responsive to an internationalization strategy. Faculty members do teaching and research; they are joint products. The process of internationalization of the teaching skills and curriculum content is inseparable from the internationalization of research skills and knowledge.

Yet a paradox exists, which often prevents the effective implementation of an internationalization strategy, however logical, necessary, and urgent it may seem. This is somewhat equivalent to the free rider externality in economics whereby it is not in the personal interest of any single faculty member to internationalize, since the individual's costs of retooling outweigh the perceived individual benefits. Thus, while the institution may declare its love and commitment to internationalize, many existing faculty members are often observed to be dragging their feet in moving towards this objective.

To compensate for this externality the institution needs to devise a reward (and punishment) structure which will produce change in the existing stock of faculty knowledge. Some of these strategic options and devices will be discussed in this paper. At this stage it is necessary to flag an alternative strategy; changing the balance of the faculty by a selective recruitment policy affecting the flow of new hires.

In well established, conventional, discipline-driven business schools it may prove extremely difficult (if not impossible) to pursue internationalization at an acceptable pace. In this case, some Deans and business school leaders have developed an alternative strategy. They produce a strategic plan in which a large percentage of new hirings will be designated to be filled by experts in international business.

A successful example of this strategy which I have observed is at the University of Hawaii, where Dean David Bess implemented in the mid eighties a new policy requiring all new faculty positions to be filled with faculty committed to research in international business and to the internationalization of their teaching. Within five years UH became a truly global faculty, where the existing stock of faculty members also changed their priorities to develop internationalization skills. All conference travel, most research grants, and career advancement became tied to the development of faculty skills in international business.

A variation of this type of internationalization is being pursued by Dean Dezo Horvath at York University. He has reserved 15 positions over a five year period for new hires in international business. The candidates being recruited are being chosen by, and operate within, a fairly standardized departmental structure in which relatively few of the existing faculty have international business skills of high quality. Coupled with this new recruitment strategy has been the introduction of a new international MBA at York University, sponsored by funding in excess of $1 million by the Ontario Centre for International Business. The programme requires language skills and an internship abroad, but it has been insufficiently differentiated from the existing MBA (the international students take a majority of their courses in the regular programme) and the students recruited often lack work experience and maturity.

At least these universities have made the commitment to a strategy for internationalization. Many other business schools have not even started this process. However, when they do, I believe that this model is not the way to proceed. Instead of introducing a new international MBA most business schools need a strategy to internationalize the existing MBA (and the existing faculty who teach it). …

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