MBA Programs Mandate Study Abroad

MBA programs are incorporating study abroad in their curricula. Approaches vary but mandatory time abroad working on a specific business problem is proving most valuable.  Two schools leading the pack are Yale School of Management and George Washington University’s Global MBA program.
Yale SOM revamped its curriculum in 2006 by replacing standard finance and marketing courses with “progressive yet practical multidisciplinary courses that cut across functional boundaries,” says SOM professor Doug Rae. “Our focus is not only to prepare students for graduation – but to be ready to tackle business problems that are five to ten years out.”
Role-playing future managers learn various perspectives, such as customer, regulator and manufacturer for example.  During students’ first year and after a 12-week preparatory course covering culture, history, language, background and world economics, students embark on a 10-14 day field trip in January.  They mix study with meetings with business, government, and nonprofit organization leaders.  They complete a trip project and take part in cultural activities. Yale’s first global students are graduating this spring.
GW will offer its revamped program to full-time students beginning fall 2008. Its MBA program is overhauled with new courses on cross-cultural diversity, international business and management, social impact of global business and micro and macroeconomics.
“Students cannot learn to do international business without having international business experience,” says associate dean Murat Tarimcilar, who himself has worked on four continents. “All full-time MBA students will participate in an international residency, which provides an interactive close-up with the complexities of the global economy.”
The international residency is a project-based consultancy. In March, an international business executive visits the campus to share information about a specific company problem in an overseas market. Students then spend weeks writing up the case study and working through the problems. In May, students spend two weeks in the host country before making a final presentation of its recommendations to company executives.
Both Tarimcilar and Rae are passionate about the important role international now plays in a student’s ability to successfully tackle present-day business problems.  Although the brief international exposure doesn’t replace living in-country for a length of time, “it teaches the students to ask the right questions” and to do so in completely foreign environments. There are no memorized answers; students must learn to think through the problems – a critical skill to working successfully across borders.

As originally published on Greentree Gazette on June 10:

Posted by Stacie Berdan at 6/10/2008 11:24 AMAdd Comment