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Richmond-Schwenningen, two schools, two continents, one project

EKU students interacting with DHBW from the perspective of the BTC classroom

Students in Professor Allen D. Engle, Sr.’s international management class in the School of Business at EKU are working long distance in four teams with students in Professor Bianka Lichtenberger’s human resources class at the Dual Hochschule Baden-Württemberg (DHBW) in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany this spring term.

“One common concern we here at EKU share with business schools all around the world is how to give undergraduate students insights into the many difficulties and challenges inherent in doing business across geographic, cultural, institutional and temporal boundaries” said Engle, EKU Foundation Professor and Professor of Management.  “I have worked for two springs now with longtime colleague Professor Bianka Lichtenberger, instructor of an undergraduate HRM course and Vice Rector at DHBW’s Villingen-Schwenningen campus” Engle added.

“It is easy to provide students with international insights with 20,000 euros per student to spend on trips, internships and international assignments. How we can provide that international context of group work at an affordable price – in this case no extra cost. That takes some planning, creativity and flexibility,” said Engle.

Four teams of EKU international business students have been working since January – through the snowiest semester in 30 plus years – to research and create a “prospectus”, a report on the strategic context of four German based multinational enterprises (MNEs). The firms selected were SAP, Siemens, BOSCH and KABA. These reports were uploaded on a shared web based platform operating from the DHBW, named “WILLI”.  Four student teams from DHBW are operating as HR consultants to the four EKU Management groups, building on the strategic context presented by EKU students, to make a series of recommendations for creating proposed job descriptions for four executives and further recommending recruitment and selection and training and development methods and models for the four German firms.

“This ‘forced interdependence’ between small teams of three to six students on both sides of the Atlantic gives our EKU student a taste of the issues, processes, relationship building and tolerance for complexity and ambiguity that are realities in today’s global business environment,” Engle went on. This is the second spring term that this ongoing experiment in international education has occurred. Lessons were learned last spring and modifications were made to the processes, timing, and exact nature of the course requirements. This shared learning experience is one of several operating at DHBW this term. Other teams in other classes at the Schwenningen campus are working with student groups in Mexico, Spain, and Brazil. The overall consortium of schools interested in investigating this form of shared learning consists of EKU, DHBW and schools in Turkey, Spain, Greece, the Czech Republic, Mexico and South Africa, and goes by the name of “Blended Learning International Coordination” (BLIC).

“I recently presented an interim report on issues learned the first year at the second annual meeting of a regional group of schools (Tennessee Tech, Appalachian State, Western Carolina and EKU) in Asheville, N.C.; and the faculty at our regional sister institutions were very interested in what we had done. I could not have done this project without the commitment to exploring and valuing diversity and internationalization provided by my chair, Lana Carnes, Dean Erekson, Dr. Vice and President Benson. A particular note of appreciation should be given to Mike Hawksley, Instructor and Lab Manager for the EKU School of Business. His hard work and professionalism working with Bernd Doerr and Michael Pelz, Mike’s opposite numbers in Germany, really makes all this possible for our students,” said Engle.

This spring, Engle is celebrating his 25th anniversary as a faculty member at EKU. His past service to the university has included being elected Chair of the University Senate (1993-1994), a member of Planning Committees and Steering Committees for institutional reaccreditation and Banner system roll out, and numerous search committees across the university. He was named a member of the EKU Society of Foundation Professors in 2013. He is coauthor of the bestselling textbook International Human Resource Management. 6th ed. (2013) published world-wide by Cengage Publishing. Engle has held a three year recurring appointment as Visiting Professor at ESCP-Europe (École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris) Europäische Wirtschaftshochschule Berlin since 2007.

Published on April 15, 2015

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