Many Canadian businesses cannot survive within the Canadian market alone. Without venturing outside Canadian borders, Canadian business would not be as economically successful, nor experience growth. The borders have opened up and an understanding of international business is fundamental to growth internationally. In order to obtain a competitive advantage in a global economy, it is important for students to understand culture and many of the business-related aspects of culture. Culture is not merely the visual differences we see (e.g. dress, language); it is the hidden aspects we don’t see such as social norms, values and beliefs.
I teach a Culture and Ethics Course in Red River College’s International Business Program. One of the course’s learning objectives is “to prepare for international assignments in order to maximize personal and commercial success”. A group project on how to research another culture would help accomplish this objective by providing students with hands on experience on how to research another culture prior to initiating business outside Canada’s borders. A WebQuest on culture preparedness could be created to help instructors guide them.
Students are divided into groups of four to five, depending on class size. Each group is assigned a country (other than their own) to profile from a cultural perspective. Following their research, they will present their findings to the class in a 25 minute PowerPoint presentation using images only (i.e. no words on the slides). The presentation is to include an economic overview, cultural profile, global etiquette and business customs.
By the end of their research, the students will be able to acquire knowledge about international cultures. Moreover, they will have an understanding that international business requires research beyond the country’s geographical location.
Based on recent search, a WebQuest on intercultural business communication was located on zunal.com. It deals with communication skills when dealing with other cultures.
Cultural Differences – An Introduction (Video)
Geert-Hofstede compares countries on 6 dimensions of culture. The Hofstede comparison helps students discover cultural differences.
The Importance of Cross-Cultural Business Communications Gayle Cotton (Entrepreneurs’ Association)