Carlson School of Management News

Full-Time MBA Students Embark on Global Discovery

Monday, January 10, 2011

At a time when many students around the world are still ringing in the new year, the second-year cohort of the Carlson School's Full-Time MBA program is traveling the globe to not only broaden their horizons, but improve the prospects of area businesses aiming to expand internationally.

Carlson School student visits to the emerging markets of Chile, China, and Turkey (along with one group visiting Silicon Valley) are the second component of a new Global Discovery course that integrates classroom, clinical field, and interactive symposium-based learning around a single topic touching on management and international business.

The inaugural class, Winning Strategies for Minnesota Business and Trade in Emerging Markets, focuses on managing businesses in emerging-market countries, how Minnesota firms can succeed in these markets, and how firms in the emerging-market countries can enter and thrive in the state and surrounding area.

"The rules of the business game are not well settled in emerging markets. We're trying to give students a taste of that," said Associate Professor Paul Vaaler, course coordinator and field work faculty leader for the group traveling to Turkey. "Global Discovery provides the kind of experience employers want to see. They want people who are ready to build a career around the world with their company."

"We hope the first-hand exposure our students will get to businesses and leaders in these countries through the Global Discovery course will prepare them for the exhilaration and the challenge of doing business in these countries," added Sri Zaheer, associate dean of Faculty and Research.

For the course, the Carlson School enlisted several prominent Minnesota-based multinational corporations such as 3M and Medtronic to provide insight on challenges and opportunities they deal with in emerging-market countries. At each destination, the students will conduct site visits, meet with local political leaders to understand the political situations of these areas, and interact with various business groups including local chambers of commerce and organizations for expatriate business executives and entrepreneurs.

Following their return, the students will share their findings with the public in an effort to help Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota companies more effectively conduct business in emerging markets. "Global Discovery Symposium: Emerging Markets - Opportunities and Challenges," held February 11 at the Carlson School, will be presented in conjunction with the University of Minnesota's new Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) which aims to advance the knowledge and understanding of global business issues.

"The Global Discovery program is a prime example of the Carlson School's commitment to further the global competence of its students, faculty, staff, and the regional business community," said Michael Houston, associate dean of International Programs.

The symposium's content will include risk and alternative perspectives, innovation and emerging market examples, and governance and the role of civilian and non-governmental organizations.

Prior to their travels, the students received extensive classroom preparation in which they reviewed analytical models and technical measurement approaches to understanding how multinational corporations view risks associated with investing in emerging-market countries, studied economic policy trends across emerging-market countries, and analyzed political business cycles.

"Studying an emerging-market country is more akin to a craft such as weaving, painting, or jewelry-making," added Vaaler. "The 'right' thing to do in a particular business setting may have limited applicability to other situations. Studying emerging-market countries is about understanding contingencies. Global Discovery is designed to give students a mode of thinking about such contingencies."

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