About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5975-5977
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.0235

Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain

VIRTUAL TEAMS: LEARNING INTERCULTURAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION BY DOING

S. Swartz

University of Applied Sciences Mainz (GERMANY)
In today’s global society, teaching business communication fundamentals to prepare for a global marketplace is more important than ever before. Whether large or small, companies increasingly communicate internationally. Developments in technology, well-equipped universities with technical support and digitally savvy students all add to the mix which allows the conventional Business Communication courses to introduce modern and diverse methods of communication. Instead of sitting through power point lectures on the importance of intercultural competencies, students can make first hand experiences working in multicultural teams without leaving their campus.

While it is one thing to familiarize students about the theories of (intercultural) communication and work styles in other countries, experiencing it first hand while also having to meet expected requirements of their own culture adds another dimension to the classroom. Adding the component of electronic communication channels, students acquire real-life skills through simulated international working experience. The combination of interaction with other students of foreign countries working on collaborative projects through digital means prepares our students for the challenges of global business.

One of these scenarios involves engaging two classes (in this case US-American and German) through discussion of a case study on a cross-border merger. Each class represents the other company’s interests and is required to negotiate on several issues such as HR policies or corporate identity using digital communication channels. A further project involves German and US-American classes which are broken into groups and required to research on respective German companies located in the US. The groups collaborate via skype and email on issues such as communication difficulties between their German parent company and the US subsidiary and together develop strategies for improving the situation. Lastly, another possible form of collaboration involves students from different countries completing several tasks online which involve building a team, identifying different roles for the players, fulfilling assignments based on a case study and involving negotiating positions.

The goals involved are simple: students are to move beyond a text-book understanding of working interculturally and to have firsthand experience working with people from another country using the English language as lingua franca but not necessarily native to all. Students become aware of differences in business communication styles and create strategies for effective negotiating across cultures. They also become aware of how many different interpretations of English can exist; not everyone interprets the same words in the same manner. Furthermore, students are to develop their project management skills including awareness of scheduling over several time zones as well as learn to utilize digital communication means effectively to reach a common goal. Lastly, by leaving their comfort zones and interacting with students of another culture, they develop confidence in themselves and learn how to deal with the ambiguity that comes with intercultural relations. To sum up, students acquire intercultural competencies, language and computer abilities as well as project management and negotiating skills essential for success in their future careers as global managers.
keywords: virtual teams.
@InProceedings{SWARTZ2017VIR,
author = {Swartz, S.},
title = {VIRTUAL TEAMS: LEARNING INTERCULTURAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION BY DOING},
series = {9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN17 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-3777-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2017.0235},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.0235},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {3-5 July, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {5975-5977}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Swartz
TI - VIRTUAL TEAMS: LEARNING INTERCULTURAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION BY DOING
SN - 978-84-697-3777-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2017.0235
PY - 2017
Y1 - 3-5 July, 2017
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN17 Proceedings
SP - 5975
EP - 5977
ER -
S. Swartz (2017) VIRTUAL TEAMS: LEARNING INTERCULTURAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION BY DOING, EDULEARN17 Proceedings, pp. 5975-5977.
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