The Sydney Morning Herald

A world ahead of the game

Author: Carla Grossetti
Date: 14/05/2011
Words: 918
Source: SMH
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: News and Features
Page: 23
Now more than ever, Australian business schools ensure students think globally, writes Carla Grossetti.

Business schools in Australia are leading the way when it comes to developing approaches that consider globalisation, academics say.

The dean of business at the University of Sydney, Professor Tyrone Carlin, says globalisation has been high on the agenda at the school for three decades and business education has long been "a global, rather than a parochial, discipline".

"Globalisation is inherent in the DNA of all good business schools in Australia and has been for a considerable period," he says. "We embrace students and faculty members from around the globe and these are a massive force in driving the way our business school operates."

Carlin is sceptical of the rhetoric contained in a report by a peak business-accreditation body in the US that describes "rising expectations" that business schools around the world develop graduates with "global competencies".

The report, by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), asserts the requirement for "increasing complexity and global connectedness of higher education".

However, Carlin questions the report's finding, saying the "global content on the curriculum at many business schools around Australia is cutting edge".

"I'd like to say to the author of a report that asserts that globalisation suddenly needs to be on the agenda: 'Stop and take a deep breath."'

He says the report seems to suggest business schools have been suddenly forced to adopt an outward focus.

"It's actually impossible to have a contemporary conversation with a business student outside a globalised context," he says.

"When you have a look at many business schools in, say, the US, you will see they have been fairly inward-looking because, until recently, there hasn't been the same imperative to reach out to a global audience. But if you look at the business schools in Australia, you will see that we opened our doors to the world two or three decades ago."

The AACSB report challenges all business schools to develop approaches that will ensure globalisation has a positive impact on the business community and wider society.

But the dean of the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Professor Robert Widing, says it would be almost impossible for business schools to produce quality graduates if they did not equip their students with a global mindset.

Many postgraduate students at the school already work in companies that might "source materials in one country, manufacture them in another, market them from a third and sell them in a fourth", Professor Widing says.

"The MGSM global citizenship pillar is addressed in coursework and in the first session on the first day of our foundations program, in which all students participate," he says.

"MGSM develops leaders with a global mindset who create sustainable value and are good citizens. This goes beyond simply providing one or two international cases in units of study in the curriculum, or perhaps a specialist subject devoted to global strategy."

As a signatory of the Principles of Responsible Management Education initiative, MGSM is responsible for transmitting the 10 principles in the UN's Global Compact through its teaching, research, partnership with industry and by providing a forum for dialogue, Widing says. The principles cover human rights, labour, environment and corruption.

"We need to make sure our graduates know the behaviour the world's leading companies have committed themselves to by signing the UN's Global Compact," he says. "By not adhering to it, they risk their jobs, assets, freedom, reputation and a good night's sleep."

To teach business graduates how to cope "in a world with borderless business communities", Widing says MGSM is piloting a new course at its Hong Kong campus called Managing with a Global Mindset. The new course, to be introduced in Sydney next year, includes assessing each student using the Thunderbird School of Global Management's Global Mindset Inventory, a self-assessment tool.

"The course develops student capabilities in cross-cultural communication, co-operation and understanding, which facilitates global business and trade," he says.

Pasha Rayan says studying for a bachelor of commerce degree at the University of NSW has taught him how to communicate in a way that spans continents.

The 19-year-old says the Kensington campus is like a microcosm of the global marketplace, where people from different cultures are encouraged to collaborate to achieve shared goals.

"For the past few weeks, I've been working on an assignment with a team of students from Mexico, Hong Kong and the US," Rayan says. "Yes, it's been challenging but it's also forced us to be innovative and to learn how to work together to overcome academic, cultural and geographical boundaries."

For his degree, Rayan, whose parents are from Indonesia, spent last year working as a marketing and accounting intern at a television station in Jakarta. The experience helped broaden his knowledge of how different cultures can connect and learn from each other.

"The internship provided me with a real-life context in which to apply the theories and formulas I've learnt at university," Rayan says. "I learnt about different business approaches, about cultural constraints and about how to break down the language barrier, which are invaluable skills to have in big business."

As chairman of the UNSW Business Society, Rayan says a shared understanding of basic business concepts is the starting point for many of the discussions he has with members of the diverse student body.

"Profit doesn't change from country to country. What does change is the way people do business. Being exposed to different opinions fosters a more outward-focused global perspective."

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