Cross-Cultural Learning Experiences by Students
Pravin Dalal School of Entrepreneurship and Family Business Management (PDSE&FB), NMIMS
Cross-cultural learning enables students to learn about their own and others’ cultures. It enhances one's knowledge of cultural norms, values, and behaviours. It further allows students to discern and communicate cultural differences with sensitivity and confidence. Teaching intercultural sensitivity can often feel challenging. Kobes (1984) emphasised an Experiential Learning Cycle to achieve an optimal cross-cultural learning experience.
In a University initiative to provide a concrete experience of cross-cultural learning, the twenty-third cohort of the Pravin Dalal School of Entrepreneurship and Family Business Management (PDSE&FB), NMIMS, visited four countries, Belgium, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, to explore and learn about design, innovation, and global business prospects.
Effective experiential learning is seen when a person progresses through a cycle of four stages: (1) having a concrete experience followed by (2) observation of and reflection on that experience which leads to (3) the formation of abstract concepts, (analysis) and generalisations (conclusions) which are then (4) used to test a hypothesis in future situations, resulting in new experiences.
The International Study Trip
In a journey to connect students with culturally different people and to move along a spectrum from “ethnocentrism’ to “ethnorelativism”, Professor Seema Mahajan, Director at the Institute, designed the IV 2022 (This is the 29th delegation in a span of 15 years and over 4000 entrepreneurial students benefitted from the same). It exposed students to global brand positioning, leading design and innovation, entering foreign markets, addressing barriers to entry, developing a futuristic perspective, and helping them imbibe best international practices.
The cohort relied heavily on experiential learning to achieve a practical cross-cultural learning experience. They visited 14 firms over 12 days, like IMEC, Riedel glass, Schindler, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Erdinger. The four-step process of experiential learning is in the diagram below:
The Experiential Learning Cycle
Source: David Korbes
- Concrete Experience
The student cohort interacted with Mayors, Investment teams, Industry leaders and trade representatives across the four countries for a first-hand experience of cross-border trade concepts, go-to-market strategies and technological trends. They observed global best practices in quality assurance, packaging and supply chain management.
- The visit to ERDINGER provided a complete insight into how Weissbier is brewed and bottled to enhance the taste and aroma
- The visit to Schindler illustrated the shape of tomorrow’s cities through technology and innovation and intelligent, inclusive, and sustainable urban mobility
- The cohort interacted with Mr Stephan Hafrel, CEO of Comate, and discussed key challenges of implementing innovative solutions across their respective businesses. The cohort visited CommScope - wireless automation. Their state-of-the-art technology, with 17965 patents, provided a broad overview of the evolving communication landscape
- Visits to other companies enabled students to develop a perspective and a broader vision of the future.
- Culinary customs reflect culture. The students had ample opportunities to study culture through the culinary route closely.
- Reflective Observation
The students reflected on the new experience in light of their existing knowledge. Their interactions with the environment were significant as they served to answer inconsistencies between experience and understanding.
- Abstract Conceptualization
The wealth of observations from the four countries will enable the students to logically analyse their ideas and theories. It is hoped it will, in turn, provide them with more thoughts and ideas.
- Active Experimentation
The trip empowered the cohort to experiment with their ideas, apply them to their daily routine, and observe the impact.
The trip has been highly successful and is expected to change students’ lives. It will enhance their thinking process and change their perspectives through holistic reflections.