Another One in the Books: SMBAs Complete a Seminar on International Business

Ronald McDonald doing the wai, a Thai gesture used in greetings.

SMBA ‘14 recently wrapped up a course in International Business, which ended on a high note with a trip around the world in the form of country presentations. On presentation day, the classroom was transformed into a forum where students exchanged their cultural findings. With food, music, and costume displays, each group provided the class with a taste of Germany, Italy, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa.

My group, “Team Thailand,” discovered that when doing business with Thai executives, it is essential to establish a good personal rapport before discussing business affairs. We also found that pointing one’s foot directly toward another person is a display of disrespect. It is little intricacies such as these that intelligent business leaders must be cognizant of in order to establish good international relations.

Throughout the course, Dr. John Francis challenged us to expand our global perspective by viewing countries of the world through different lenses – lenses that we may have overlooked prior to the course. One of the most valuable takeaways from our IB class is that there is not one universal way of conducting business. More specifically, what works in the U.S. may not translate into success in another country. In an effort to remove ourselves from ethnocentric tendencies, we went beyond the everyday SWOT analysis and examined other countries’ societal norms and how they may be reflected in their business customs. With tools such as the C.A.G.E. Distance Framework, Trompenaar and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, as well as multiple analyses developed by Michael Porter, Dr. Francis equipped us with the apparatus to boost our cultural intelligence and increase the likelihood of success in our international dealings.

From a practical standpoint, we were fortunate enough as a cohort to take what we were learning in the classroom and apply it outside the confines of our country’s borders. During our trip to the Dominican Republic (largely considered the pinnacle of the Sports MBA program) we were prepared with the necessary tools to be more culturally sensitive and adaptable, enabling us to maximize our experience abroad. After having completed the seminar on International Business, SMBA ’14 is primed for more ventures out into the world!