When James Wall, global managing director of talent solutions at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, decides where to send employees for education, hands-on global business experience is near the top of his list of needs.
‘Sitting in North Carolina with a [classmate] from Singapore isn’t like going to Singapore and studying there,’ says Mr. Wall.
He expects Deloitte to sponsor about five employees to attend Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business expanded Cross Continent Program, an executive M.B.A. that takes place in six countries over 16 months.
Mr. Wall says a global mind-set ‘is moving up the chain as a measure of success’ at the firm and that global experience will soon become a requirement for partners at the firm.
And business schools are shifting quickly to meet the rising demands for more tangible international education from companies like Deloitte. While global business has long been an M.B.A. buzzword, schools are going beyond what, until now, has been passable for claiming international expertise: touting the number of foreign students on campus, pushing week-long overseas visits, or highlighting loosely defined international partnerships.
In the past, business-school deans would talk about all their partnerships and alliances, but the partnerships weren’t usually robust, says Tim Westerbeck, managing director at Lipman Hearne, a Chicago marketing firm and consultant for dozens of top business schools.
‘Now, what you see happening is the schools themselves are behaving very much like a transnational corporation,’ Mr. Westerbeck says.
As part of that change, many schools are focusing on providing more meaningful international experiences. To that end, experiential learning — where students are immersed in real-world experiences — is becoming mainstream.
The Global Initiatives in Management Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management sent its biggest group of first-year M.B.A.s to work on research projects abroad last year — 380 students, or roughly half the class, spent two weeks in a total of 21 countries after two months of prep work.
Wall Street Journal reports how last year, the school also launched Global Lab, a program aimed at second-year students. They pair up with international companies to work on consulting projects.
Mehmet Ataman, chief executive of KBB, a Turkish hospital-equipment manufacturer, says executives at his 150-person company have had twice-weekly Skype calls with a group of Kellogg students in the Global Lab program for the past four months.
This month, the four-person Kellogg team will spend two weeks in Turkey to finalize an international marketing strategy project for the company.
‘This is a good opportunity for my people to work with international students,’ says Mr. Ataman, who is so far pleased with the results.
At the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, about one-third of the full-time M.B.A. class goes through the school’s International Business Development program. In the program, small teams work on consulting projects throughout the world.
‘It’s gone from a nice thing to do on the sidelines, to the reason why students say they are coming to the school,’ says Sebastian Teunissen, the professor who heads the program. Students spend three weeks abroad as part of their projects.
Other schools are experimenting with how to create more meaningful partnerships abroad. Organizers of the executive M.B.A. program at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business in China (a partnership with the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing) are considering a more integrated curriculum that draws on content from both Chinese and American professors.
Anil Gupta, a strategy professor at the school and co-author of ‘Getting China and India Right,’ says the courses in the program need to cover topics that the emerging population of Chinese managers can relate to. Mr. Gupta himself swapped a case study on Walt Disney with one on a Chinese company in an executive-education course he recently taught in Shanghai.
Undergraduate business programs also are beginning to move beyond traditional study abroad programs. This fall, incoming students to the new International Business and Chinese Enterprise program — a partnership between the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business and Chinese University of Hong Kong — will have a chance to spend two years studying at each institution. The program will include internships in both countries.
‘You can’t forgo deep cultural immersion,’ says Scott Koerwer, deputy dean of professional programs at the business school.