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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Developing Global Competitiveness with Online Education



Online education and geographically dispersed students afford new opportunities to gain greater international business knowledge and support a global business culture. The advent of high speed virtual communications has changed the rate of global integration of business culture and opportunities to conduct economic transactions across thousands of miles. This new mobility of ideas and marketplace transactions requires relevant forms of education that can support students in developing a larger mental framework that foster higher levels of global competitiveness. Research by Erez, et. al. (2013) studied virtually and globally diverse learning teams and how these impact the development of a global mindset.

The global conception often requires at least two different skills that afford a broader perspective of decisions and ideas. Both cultural intelligence and global identity are necessary to construct a better understanding of the world and the issues it faces. The approach to learning allows for constructionist development, or experiential learning, that affords students the ability to develop personal experiences, reflection, readjustment and enabling them to compete on a global scale (Kayes, 2002).

Cultural intelligence entails the ability to effectively function in culturally diverse settings (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008). The ability to understand different cultures requires experience with them and a general understanding of their internal structures and values. Culture is often subtle and takes on different cues and mannerisms. It takes considerable time to interact with different cultures and create a better understanding of them.

Global identity can be defined as a sense of belonging to and identifying with a global culture (Shokef & Erez, 2006). Through understanding different cultures it is possible to understand the similarities that these cultures entail. Many of these similarities revolve around the essential mannerisms of existence each culture uses to support itself and survive in the wider world.  A global identity is based in identifying with the similarities of multiple cultures.

The researchers found that cultural intelligence and global identity increased during the classes. Students were better able to formulate accurate opinions and interactions with those in different geographically dispersed locations. They didn’t lose their local culture or identity but expanded that identity to include a wider framework of knowledge that helped them reason better on a global scale. The essential element of virtual learning teams being the formation of trust among members who sought shared outcomes (i.e. learning). Focusing on similarities among different cultures was more beneficial than focusing on what makes each culture unique. The study was a success for online global management programs that sought to create greater international competitiveness in preparedness.

Ang, S., & Van Dyne, L. (2008). Conceptualization of cultural intelligence: Definition, distinctiveness, and nomological network. In S. Ang & L. Van Dyne (Eds.), Handbook of cultural intelligence: Theory, measurement, and applications: 3–15. New York: M. E. Sharpe.

Erez, M., et. al. (2013). Going Global: Developing Management Students’ Cultural Intelligence and Global Identity in Culturally Diverse Virtual Teams. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12 (3).

Kayes, D. C. (2002). Experiential learning and its critics: Preserving the role of experience in management education. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 1: 137–149.

Shokef, E., & Erez, M. (2006). Global work culture and global identity as a platform for a shared understanding in multicultural teams. In B. Mannix, M. Neale and Y. Chen (Eds.) National culture and groups. Research on Managing Groups and Teams, vol. 9: 325–352.

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