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Preparing business students for the global workplace through study abroad: A case study of the Danish Institute for Study Abroad

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Abstract

Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to use the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) International Business (IB) program as a case study to illustrate how experiential learning theory (ELT) can be put into practice in an education abroad context through pro-active intervention and through supporting immersion activities inside and outside the classroom. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This paper will use the IB program at DIS as a case study to illustrate how a holistic approach to study abroad is put into practice and how it aligns with the current theories in experiential learning and intervention in student learning during the study abroad process. It will examine various elements of the IB program as well as self-assessment data gathered from students through evaluations and a unique survey. Findings ‐ Through concerted intervention efforts, DIS is exposing students to different perspectives as well as professionals within the Danish and European business communities, utilizing real-world case examples, making students active participants in their learning, strengthening their intercultural skills and preparing students to be able to reflect on and articulate what it is they have learned abroad. Based on student self-assessment, students agree that DIS is helping them prepare for the global work place. Research limitations/implications ‐ This paper is limited to the experiences and practices within DIS IB program and all student data come from their own self-assessment and do not do pre- and post-testing to measure students' intercultural gains. Practical implications ‐ This paper should be useful to higher education institutions and study abroad programs looking to enhance the experiential learning opportunities for business students abroad. Originality/value ‐ This case study serves to illustrate examples of ELT in practice and intervention in student learning abroad with a particular focus on skills needed for business students in a global work place.

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... Therefore, a study-abroad experience offers a unique opportunity to acquire skills, enhance cultural competency, global networking, and compete in a global labor market (Ead 2019). Students are exposed to foreign professors with different teaching styles and social or nonschool-related activities which provide opportunities for experiential learning (Brandauer and Hovmand 2015). Kolb (1984) suggests that experiential learning is awareness which comes with real-life experiences and explains experiential learning as a cycle comprised of four factors: 1) concrete experience (having an experience), 2) reflective observation (reflect on your experience), 3) abstract conceptualization (learning from the experience) and 4) active experimentation (trying what you learned). ...
... The study abroad experience can also contribute to the personal development and growth that students experience during cross-cultural interactions (Brandauer and Hovmand 2015). According to the intercultural transformation theory (Kim 1993), an individual's self-reflexive system helps an individual in observing, reflecting, and renewing as the person interacts with his or her environments. ...
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In light of diverse designs of the international business (IB) curriculum, this study investigates how the IB curriculum that requires students to major in a functional area enhances students’ cultural intelligence as well as differentiates the effect of students’ study abroad experience above and beyond various functional IB courses. By conducting qualitative focus groups and a quantitative survey in the United States, we find that although students’ past study abroad experiences improved their cultural intelligence (CQ), the IB education curriculum, even without a study abroad component, plays a pivotal role in improving students’ ethnorelativism, which leads to increased CQ. The finding of the current study supports that IB programs focusing on curriculum that enhances students’ ethnorelativism will help students develop CQ despite lacking study-abroad opportunities due to various travel restrictions, such as the ones caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, ethnorelativism in its own right has become a salient issue in the current climate of rising intolerance against minorities of different cultural backgrounds. We offer suggestions in the IB curriculum to further foster students’ ethnorelativism and CQ.
... Gender differences in process or experiential learning may also help explain the wide disparity in the lower percent of males who study abroad (who commonly represent 35% or fewer of participants) [43]. The principal benefit of studying abroad occurs through the experience of living in a different culture. ...
... In a highly competitive study abroad program, the underlying philosophy is rooted in a primary tenet of Kolb's experiential learning theory [44]: "Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes" (p. 108), such that experiential learning transforms students' experiences into new knowledge and personal growth [43]. The role of experience in learning dovetails with women's greater interest in interpersonal facets of work such as social contacts and working conditions compared to men's task orientation [45]. ...
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... Each class had some combination of students from Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Jamaica, Nepal, Netherlands, Peru, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and various states across the US. The scope of diversity permitted the observation of established relationships among culture, cognition, teaching, and learning in line with diversity pedagogy theory (Brandauer and Hovmand 2013;Sheets and Hernandez 2009). Over the 16-week semester, students are assigned 10 chapters from a textbook, 5 articles, 5 case studies, 4 field trips, 3 simulations, 2 problem sets, 1 book review, and 1 term project. ...
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... On the other hand, there is much less information on its curriculum strategic internationalization and how it can boost enrollments in IB programs. Furthermore, while studying abroad is considered one of the best ways to prepare to enter and succeed in the interconnected, globalized workforce, 90 percent of American college students do not study or intern outside the USA (Brandauer and Hovmand, 2013;Goodman, 2017). It seems, therefore, sensible to bring the world to American college students through comprehensive IB curricula that meet the needs of the customers. ...
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Chapter
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