International Business in Context

International Business in Context: a small course of one evening, straight to the point and with three frameworks. Prof. Dr. Leo Sleuwaegen indeed presented the CAGE framework, Porter’s diamond and the ADDING logic (among other things). But the most interesting observation from this evening (imho) was not really there but in the striking difference between students from the Modular and Part Time MBA programmes.

All Modular MBA students were sitting in the center and on the right. All PT MBA students were sitting on the left (not everybody was there: the Corporate Financial Management exam of this Friday is maybe responsible for this). Only a few questions and interventions came from us. The Modular MBA were more outspoken, more direct, acting more like a group, wore more suits and positively interrupted the class several times. They were also more international (coming from Germany, Russia, Georgia, Columbia, India, Portugal, …). And since the Modular MBA lasts for 18 months (instead of 24),  they received more courses than we currently received. It was a fresh breeze :-) YMMV.

Back to International Business in Context, here is a short glimpse at the course:

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Opening Seminar (I&O Psychology)

Each beginning of the year, all Apollo students gather together for a 2-days opening seminar. Since the group contains students from both years, the same seminar is given every 2 years to Apollo. On odd years (2011), it’s I&O Psychology and we are going to hotel Stiemerheide in Genk. On even years (2012), … well, we’ll see if we are still alive by that time.

Hotel StiemerheideThe hotel is quite luxurious. Rooms have enough space to be shared with a roommate (2 single beds, don’t worry) ; the only problem could be the semi-transparent door for the bathroom ;). I think the rooms are well soundproofed but I can’t really tell you since we were probably making much more noise at the Thursday party than other visitors in the hotel. Although surprising, the food was nice. I’m not a connoisseur but it seems the wine was not as good as expected. Some people tried the swimming pool, sometimes at unexpected times. Some of us also tried the sauna and the snooker. Pictures are here (access may be restricted to protect some students’privacy).

Oh yes, we were there to work, not only to enjoy the spot …

I&O has in fact nothing to do with the Input/Output from computers (as I initially thought) nor the tenth studio album by Peter Gabriel. I&O stands for Industrial and organizational psychology (given by Prof. Dr. Koen Dewettinck, previously mentioned in this blog). According to Wikipedia, it’s “the scientific study of employees, workplaces, and organizations”.

You don’t know your employees, your workplace and your organization if you don’t know yourself first. That’s why we spent a lot of time to dissect our MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) scores. Maybe a bit too much time. We also explored our personality in 4-quadrants and explored group dynamics through games. Of course, I won’t tell you which ones otherwise your pleasure will be spoiled (especially if it rains heavily during the outdoor game). In the end, it was very funny to watch ourselves on video.

In my opinion, the seminar lacked a little bit of stuff about “workplaces, and organizations”. But past experiences, future readings and probably other courses will be there to help. I was also wondering what is the estimated frequencies of the different MBTI types in a general population. Just to compare to the frequencies of our group.

And there, I was very astonished: there is hardly any statistics about that in the literature (well, I agree I only looked on the web). Then this made my suspicious: if the first version was published nearly 50 years ago (1962), why aren’t there many results available? Because the MBTI instrument is the property of a private publisher and studies on results are guarded secrets? Because some studies showed low validity and low reliability (see Wikipedia article, I didn’t have time to check the references)? Well, anyway, I only found one table about the estimated frequencies of the types in the United States population, at CAPT.

First you put the 16 different types of personalities in this test in a 4 by 4 square like the one below.

General MBTI grid Then you take the mean of each square mentioned in the CAPT results and you get this: more people on the left (on the S-sensing side) than on the right side and, there, more people on top and bottom (i.e. on ISxJ and ESxJ).

Estimated frequencies of the MBTI types in the United States population Now if we look at the results of our group, it’s a bit different … There is practically no xSFx people, except one ESFP. Most of the Apollo MBA students are on the right side (i.e. the N-intuition side). And there are two big group: one at the extreme bottom left (ESTJ) and one at the extreme bottom right (ENTJ).

Estimated frequencies of the MBTI types in an MBA group (Vlerick Apollo, Belgium) Is it “normal” or representative of MBA students? I don’t know: I don’t have any comparison point. One could say MBA students are more N-intuitive than the US population. And, instead of being split between I-introverts (top) and E-extroverts (bottom) like the US population, our class is split between S-sensing (left) and N-intuition (right). It would be nice to see if this show something (or not).

One last thing the opening seminar is usually devoted to is an introduction to the International Study Trip. Again this year, students can choose between Beijing (China), Mumbai (India), Cape Town (South Africa) and New York (USA). There were demands from students for a trip in Brazil and it’s apparently something under investigation at Vlerick (but it won’t be for this year for sure). The way students can choose is a first-come-first-served method: between two dates/times, students have to send their preferences and places will be filled up as e-mails are received by the programme manager. Then … Alea jacta est! We’ll see who is going where!

Where are all these students going?

Where are all these students going to?

P.S. At each opening seminar, Apollo students also elect the student rep for the 1st year students and the Chief Party Animal. Read the previous post for more on this.

Start day minus 6: have a beer (or two)

Have you already read your handbook? Ok, now it’s already time for some rest …

Although you might think Champagne is often associated with MBA, Vlerick is located in Leuven, Belgium. Belgium is well known for its beers. And since a long time! On top of that Leuven is the historic home of InBev, the world first brewing company.

So, take advantage of the sunny day (sun is a precious and unpredictable commodity in Belgium), sit at a table outside a café and enjoy a beer while you can still do it. Hurry up: some students already started!

Santé!

Belgian Beers

Start day minus 7: read the student handbook

7 days left - MBA countdownHolidays are nearly over and it will be soon time to go to school. Now you can smell in the air tension starts to build up before classes start. Students get organized …

Really? :) Well, not really but let’s see what we can do during these few 7 days before classes start.

One of the little things that Vlerick was praised for by alumni is the organisation / efficiency. Especially for the part-time MBA: students are working during the day, some have a wife or a family at home and they are also students during the evening. Even for full-time students logistics is key. By the way, there will be a course on logistics and supply chain management. Supplying students with information, courses, etc., it’s a bit like supply chain, isn’t it?

And we were already able to see that before. Just minutes after deliberation, Vlerick sent results via e-mails. Weeks before September Vlerick sent the student handbook as well as the schedule for the whole year. Now we know when exams will take place: they are spread over the whole year :) The practical guidelines are answering almost all your questions, from the lockers location, library hours, parking facilities, privacy policy to examination rules and insurance policies.

Let’s hope it will stay the same …

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