Internationalization of the Michigan Business School: A Letter from the Front

By Miller, Edwin L. | Journal of Business Administration, Fall 1992 | Go to article overview

Internationalization of the Michigan Business School: A Letter from the Front


Miller, Edwin L., Journal of Business Administration


1.0 INTRODUCTION

North American schools and colleges of business administration are engaged in a game of "catch up" in business education because of the consequences of globalization of the marketplace. There is an urgency to offer internationally-oriented business and management programs for managerial and professional/technical personnel of North American corporations as well as students interested in business careers. Unfortunately, few business schools and colleges are prepared to offer a comprehensive set of international business and management courses and cross-cultural programs or to incorporate an international perspective into existing core business courses. Given these programmatic deficiencies, what are business schools and colleges doing to overcome this serious academic problem?

It is my assessment that aggressive action must be undertaken. However, much of the interest in internationalizing can be traced to those institutions and faculty members who already are engaged in the process of integrating an international dimension into their respective curricula. Moreover, there is a segment of business schools that doesn't understand what is required to internationalize the curriculum or faculty, how to go about integrating an international dimension into the curriculum and, perhaps, why internationalization of the faculty and curriculum is a relevant concern.

The pace of economic, social and political changes occurring throughout the world has resulted in a new day for geopolitics and economics. The movement from a national to a global marketplace, the emergence of bloc economies, the demise of communism, and the spread of capitalism throughout the world have combined in such a way as to challenge traditional assumptions and paradigms for analyzing competition in the marketplace. Global competition is the central theme of today's economic life, and the skills and knowledge necessary for successfully competing in the world of contemporary global business require careful attention and an understanding of the dynamics of competition unfamiliar to many of those in leadership positions in government, business and academic life. Higher education has not provided this leadership cadre with the tools or the perspective that will enable them to react effectively to the kinds of economic, legal and political changes that are now taking place. For example, the vast majority of business school faculty members were educated at a time when national markets represented the predominant arena in which competition took place. The development of international business theory and research was in its infancy and attracted the attention of a limited number of faculty members and students. Today, that legacy is with us in business education because most faculty members are unprepared to incorporate international business issues into their respective courses or engage in internationally-oriented scholarship. The consequence of this serious academic deficiency impacts the content of doctoral programs in business administration and the education of future business school faculty members. Stated in somewhat different terms, North American business schools are doing very little to prepare their students to apply knowledge of the world to today's world and the world of the Twenty-first Century.

In this paper I will share some of the lessons I have learned about the internationalization process of a business school, its faculty, curriculum, and culture. Specifically, I propose to address: how a business school faculty and its administration develop a plan for: (1) incorporating an international or global perspective throughout the curriculum; (2) developing the faculty members' international professional competence; (3) sustaining an international business research agenda; and (4) nurturing an international orientation throughout the academic programs and the life of the institution. At the outset let me be clear: the design, the range of activities and the means for internationalizing represent my experiences and my thoughts. …

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