Personal and professional development is part of the Carlson School's culture. When the school's world-class faculty experience a new cultural environment, they obtain fresh perspectives on key business concepts. The University of Minnesota Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) is one of 33 centers across the country that provides development opportunities for faculty in hopes their participation will internationalize their curricula and research agendas.
Whether it's sponsoring faculty to take part in overseas faculty development programs, organizing courses abroad, or hosting visiting instructors from affiliated institutions, the Center brings insights from all corners of the globe to the Twin Cities. As experienced by one Carlson School professor, these opportunities help faculty gain first-hand knowledge of the global perspectives that benefit their business students.
Responding to global demands
Senior lecturer of marketing Jay Lipe is in constant pursuit of what's new. Having managed some of the best-known brands in the world, he knows new packaging designs, new distribution strategies and new pricing models can make or break a consumer goods brand. But it wasn't until his recent visit to India that he truly understood how marketers can leverage new ideas to meet consumers' needs.
CIBER sponsored Lipe to join a group of colleagues on a 10-day program offered by the Florida International University CIBER, which involved a visit to eight corporations in New Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai. Despite his initial apprehension about stepping outside his known world, Lipe was soon captivated by tactics marketers were implementing to meet consumer needs in developing nations.
"This experience allowed me to look at product development through a new lens," says Lipe. "In developed nations, it's the higher end sections of the market that command the greatest presence. But in an emerging market, the vast majority of opportunity exists in the low end product tier, where consumers have lower income."
For example, U.S. consumers are accustomed to purchasing shampoo in 16-ounce bottles. But due to differences in consumer behavior, those bottles would collect dust on store shelves in India. Indian consumer products company Gondrej manufactures sachets -- single-use packages of shampoos and soaps that resemble condiment packets. This ubiquitous product was introduced in response to special cultural and geographic demands
"You reduce the weight, you reduce the cost, you reduce the product and you deliver a product the consumer really wants in an emerging market," says Lipe. "All four essential principles of marketing are changing to adapt to the local needs - price, product, place, and promotion."
Applying new lessons
The professor departed India with a heightened understanding that educators should be doing more to internationalize their perspective to better teach analytical thinking and responsive problem solving.
"It's so important for business professionals to think globally and act locally. Companies have to adapt their strategies to the local economy," says Lipe. "I realized that any multinational company that wants to expand outside the United States has to be schooled in thinking about markets differently."
Since returning to the Twin Cities, Lipe has incorporated eight learning modules obtained during his travels into his courses, including ideas for how to administer his own learning abroad courses. He readily admits that he has become a more well-rounded educator as a result of the experience.
"Teachers are constantly trying to broaden their thinking. There's no better way to broaden your thinking than to experience something new," he concludes.