A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Have Grade Book, Will Travel

By Colleen Kearney Rich on October 24, 2011


Dean Jorge Haddock

When you sit down to discuss global business education with Mason’s School of Management dean, Jorge Haddock, the last things you expect him to bring up are Christopher Columbus and Jamestown.

“The term global business is redundant,” Haddock says, and perhaps it always has been. “Columbus was sailing the globe looking for better trade routes, and Jamestown was a business venture,” he offers as examples.

And while business continues to take people to the far reaches of the globe, what has changed over the centuries is technology.

“Technology has enabled business to move at an accelerated pace not only in the movement of the goods, but in the innovation of new products and services,” says Haddock, who has been the school’s dean since 2009. “The whole world has become a small village because of technology, and that’s what makes business exciting. At the same time, it poses challenges to companies to stay competitive.”

That’s where business education and the School of Management come in.

Alison S. O'Brien

“We have to be global. Business is global,” says Alison S. O’Brien, MA ’97, PhD ’01, associate dean of undergraduate programs at the school. “So we have to prepare students at all levels to work in this global marketplace when they leave us.”

Unusual but Not Unique

How does one prepare students to succeed in such a dynamic environment? According to Haddock and O’Brien, international elements are worked into the curriculum both purposefully and organically.

Oftentimes, the global aspects of a business topic are introduced purposefully into a course through case studies and textbooks, but Haddock believes it is the international experiences of the students and the faculty (the organic means, in his mind) and how they bring these experiences into the classroom that really set Mason apart.

“Any activity I have with undergraduates, whether it is an honor society induction or student reception, is like the United Nations. Our students are coming from all over the world,” says Haddock, who was born in Puerto Rico and is bilingual. “We also have many first-generation college students who were born here but speak another language at home. And they aren’t captured in the [international student] statistics because they are U.S. citizens.”

Business degrees are hot, especially among international students. The Institute for International Education continues to rank business and management as the top fields of study pursued by international students. Running a near second is engineering.

Mason’s dual degree programs have proven this finding to be true. Nearly 40 percent of the students in the China 1+2+1 program major in management, finance, or marketing. The majority of students enrolled in the new Moscow State University dual program seeks degrees in business or economics. These two programs add to the school’s international demographics.

While such diversity at the undergraduate level isn’t unique among business programs, according to the dean, it is unusual.

“[Internationally, diversity] is much more common in graduate programs,” Haddock says. “For example, if you were to check out a graduate program in Spain, you would find that most students come from other countries.”

Haddock knows business schools. Since 2005, he has conducted accreditation visits around the world for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (see sidebar), the same organization that accredited the School of Management in 1991. In fact, Haddock is known for his strong network of business school deans around the world.

Bringing the World to the Classroom

Catherine Cramton

But the dean isn’t the only member of the school’s faculty traveling the world. Research takes its faculty to almost every continent, and they in turn bring these experiences into the classroom.

Management professor Catherine Cramton studies virtual teamwork and geographically distributed work groups. Her research has taken her to Germany, India, and Tunisia. As a Fulbright Fellow, she spent several months at the Mediterranean School of Business in Tunis, studying the cultural, economic, and political contexts of the Mediterranean rim.

Students in her undergraduate and graduate classes have learned about culture and virtual teamwork through partnerships with students at universities in Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Portugal, Austria, Spain, Finland, and Denmark.

Recently, undergraduates in Cramton’s Cross-Cultural and Global Management class had the opportunity to learn about cross-cultural communication and virtual teamwork firsthand when the class partnered with classes at two universities: University of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia, and Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. Over the course of the semester, the business students explored communication norms, business practices, and leadership values with their Australian and Austrian counterparts using WebCT, an Internet-based communication platform, and video podcasts.

Assistant professors in operations management Cheryl Druehl and Michael Naor are working with an Israeli company called Better Place to develop an innovative business model for electric cars that they anticipate will reduce barriers to the adoption of the technology in the automobile industry. In her Master of Business Administration (MBA) class, Management of Technology and Innovation Processes, Druehl devotes a session to the discussion of green product development in which her work with Better Place plays a role.

Global Residencies

Karen Hallows

Some have said that the School of Management’s global residency program is the cornerstone of Mason’s global business efforts. The school was one of the first business schools in the country to require a global residency for students in its MBA, Executive MBA (EMBA), and MS in Technology Management programs.

Since 1991, cohorts of 10 to 50 graduate students have traveled for one or two weeks with faculty members around the globe, visiting such countries as Australia, Chile, India, China, and the Czech Republic, to name a few. Each residency features visits with global and regional companies, talks with business leaders and government officials, and exchanges with business school faculty and students from partner universities.

“The global residencies for graduate business students can be transformational experiences because the students are submerged in the business practices and cultures of the country, not just reading about them,” says Karen Hallows, the school’s academic director of executive programs, who has led a number of these trips over the years. “Students come away from these residencies with fresh perspectives on the challenges in global business and most indicate it was a life-changing event for them.”

In recent years, the school has continued to grow its residency program, which is now part of the school’s new Center for Global Business Innovation and Transformation.

Karen Hallows (upper left) and Technology Management students attend a presentation by Weida Freight Systems in Taipei, Taiwan.

“Rather than just having the site visits with business contacts, Dean Haddock wants to build our relationships with our global educational partners,” says O’Brien, a faculty affiliate of the new center. “We are looking to have multiple contact points between these institutions and Mason. We are hoping this will facilitate research connections and exchanges of both students and faculty.”

Global business expert Robert Grosse has been brought in to direct the center and help build these connections. He comes to Mason from the EGADE graduate business school at Monterrey Tec in Mexico, where he was also the director. Prior to his appointment in Mexico, Grosse was the founding director of the Global Leadership Centre, Standard Bank Group’s (South Africa) leadership development program.

“We look forward to building on the bases that already have been established, and to really make our school a
global player, with activities in the Americas, Europe, and Asia,” says Grosse. “We intend both to generate new research on doing business internationally and to recognize the excellent international research already being undertaken by our faculty members. Our students will find increasing opportunities to study overseas in important markets, to participate in research with professors, and to interact with companies that are doing global business.”

Among the center’s partner universities are Ecole Supérieure de Commerce Extérieur in Paris, Okan University in Turkey, and Universidad de los Andes in Colombia.

China One to One

Tim Porter

While global residencies are not required for undergraduate business majors, faculty and administrators such as O’Brien still think about them and develop trips and programs to meet their needs. In 2009, the school received a U.S. Department of Education grant, Strengthening Global Business Education: Gateway to China, to help support this endeavor.

With the help of Mason’s Center for Global Education, the first China trip supported by the grant took place in summer 2010. Accounting major Johnny Amin was among the students on the trip. The child of former foreign service officers, Amin plans a career in embassy and diplomatic work.

“I wanted to see the other side of the world and how business is run,” says Amin, who has traveled to 30 countries so far. “Shanghai was very much like New York City. Beijing was a little more conservative.”

Amin, who is minoring in global affairs, believes the study-abroad experience will give him an edge in securing an internship with the U.S. State Department, which is critical for his long-term career goals.

Feedback from the first group helped the school tweak this year’s Beijing trip.

“[The 2010 trip was successful] because it told us what we needed to do for the undergraduates,” says O’Brien. “While the language students were happy to have a context to use their language skills, the business students told us they wanted more language preparation.”

The 2011 Beijing trip was six weeks long and led by Chinese language professor Xi Chen of Mason’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Tim Porter, a new assistant professor of information systems and operations management.

Accounting major Johnny Amin visited the Great Wall with fellow students in 2010.

Chen saw the students through their intensive language classes and culture and customs preparation at the Beijing Language and Cultural University. Porter then took over for the last two weeks teaching an abbreviated version of MSOM 305 Managing in a Global Environment. Students were expected to prepare briefs on the companies they visited in China and keep a journal of their experiences.

Porter was an excellent choice to guide the students through their business site visits because he has a good understanding of China’s business environment. Porter lived in China for 10 years until August 2010 when he joined Mason. He has served as a general manager for global services at Hundsun Technologies in Hangzhou, China, a prominent Chinese software company and played a key role in expanding the company’s business outside China. In addition, he taught software engineering and project management at one of China’s top universities.

“While in China, I hosted many similar groups from American universities, so I have a good idea of what to expect on these trips,” says Porter, who speaks Mandarin. “Most of the students on these trips do not have much business experience. I think it is important to guide the companies [we are going to visit] so that our visits are worthwhile and provide the right kind of insights.”

Taking the EMBA Offshore

Moving beyond taking students abroad to taking one of its degree programs to another country, the school will offer its EMBA degree program at Cairo University in Egypt this fall. The project is the result of a visit by Dean Haddock, O’Brien, and Michelle Marks, MA ’93, PhD ’98, associate professor of management and associate provost of graduate programs at Mason. Cairo University has about 110,000 students but no EMBA program of its own.

“We have the established track record and the curriculum in place. They were very interested [in working with us],” says O’Brien.

Classes will be taught at the Faculty of Commerce, which is Cairo’s business school. “It will be our curriculum, our degree, and our faculty doing the on-site teaching,” says O’Brien.

The school’s EMBA faculty members will travel to Egypt for two-week stints to teach their area of expertise. Between classroom meetings, the teaching will continue online.

In addition, the school plans to offer its EMBA online as a Global EMBA and a National Defense EMBA through a partnership with distance learning provider Colloquy. Offering the program online now makes enrollment possible for people who travel a great deal for their job, as well as for business people living around the globe.

Because of the distance aspects of the program, the online EMBAs will provide four residencies throughout the degree program, some required and some optional, gathering the students at different times in Washington, D.C.; New York City; Oxford University in England; and some international city chosen based on the location of the students. These residencies will give the cohorts the opportunity to gather and meet the students with whom they have been working remotely.

“Today’s business world demands new kinds of leadership,” says Roy Hinton, associate dean of executive programs in the school. “We are proud to offer this specialized management education.”


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