WE PREACH, "DESIGN AND INNOVATION CAN SUPPORT ORGANIZATION AND INDIVIDUAL LEARNING"
Today's complex, rapidly-changing, uncertain world requires an education that prepares graduates for incredible challenges and opportunities on a global economic landscape. The German economist Klaus Schwab (as cited by Hume, 2012) who founded the World Economic Forum in 1971, cites the need for "new decision-making models ... to account for changed global realities" (p. 2). We describe two examples of management education courses designed to respond to that need: an international, interdisciplinary capstone course and a business and design course. These courses incorporate changes in content, format, and outcomes to closely resemble the environment in which business graduates need to function including: action learning, reflective practice, and cross-cultural/interdisciplinary partnerships. Students are prepared to be innovative, critical thinkers and problem solvers while developing real solutions to real problems in real-world settings. Both present promising practices for business education designed to prepare today's graduates to lead in today's world in a manner that supports learning and tracking the quality of learning as the course progresses.
Maznevski and Chudoba (2000) suggest that multicultural groups typically offer higher potential for performance on complex tasks than culturally homogeneous groups. Reynolds and Vince (2004) and Grey (2004) note the potential of action learning for advancing important management perspectives. To explore these ideas, faculty from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Augsburg partnered to design an international, capstone project for organization development (OD) and Master's of business administration (MBA) students. Faculty members developed a list of learning outcomes in business and cultural competencies. The experience involves a videoconference orientation, cross cultural teamwork on a real business project, 6 weeks of virtual team work, and a one week residency on site at the client organizations in the United States or in Germany.
The students work in mixed cross-cultural and cross discipline learning teams of five students on a strategic initiative for their client. Client organization partners are selected based on the quality of the project, availability of executive support, and willingness to provide an onsite 1-week residency. A faculty team representing both universities developed learning outcomes. The learning outcomes consist of competence in: business management, leadership and personal integrity, change management, organization development, evaluation and assessment, business strategy, market development, and human capital development.
Students complete a cultural competency survey prior to the first class session, at the start of the residency, and at the end of the experience. The initial session of the course is a group videoconference for all students and faculty. Students use private videoconference time to introduce themselves and establish a protocol for their team.
For 6 weeks, students work collaboratively through Blackboard and weekly Skype phone conferences. Each student team uses a project based learning approach (DeFillippi, 2001) to address the project. Teams hold conference calls with the client partner. Students submit a weekly report on Blackboard. In addition, individual students, guided by both Schón's (1983) and Seibert and Daudelin's (1999) reflective practice models, submit a weekly journal with faculty members providing strategic questions, guidance, and resources as well as feedback on reports.
After engaging in online learning for 6 weeks, students meet each other and their client in a 1-week residency. Students submit daily reflections, document their learning, and complete the cultural competency survey a second time. They debrief each evening with the faculty. Student teams present their work to their client's executive team to culminate the week.
Analysis of student products, reflections, and documentation of learning support changes in critical thinking and problem-solving approaches and abilities. Students report that upon completion of the course, they have received promotions, secured employment in international companies, and felt more confident in decision making and creative, interdisciplinary problem solving.