Innovative Methods of Cultural, Intercultural and Managerial Competences Acquisition for the Constantly Changing Global Economy in a New Paradigm Shift
PIOTR /PETER / ODRAKIEWICZ, PHD JOANNA ZATOR-PELJAN, PHD Poznan University College of Business
Abstract: In today’s globalized world understanding the aspect of cultural and intercultural similarities and differences may be considered as one of the top priority issues that can enable a successful collaboration in an international environment. Expanded it means that there is a certain dependence between the two mentioned aspects. Firstly, respecting and understanding foreign habits and traditions. Secondly, experiencing other culture as a possible change of perceiving one’s own nation. At this point it seems to be important to mention the new working conditions of managers who deal with cultural and intercultural diversity in their companies. Moreover, the success of international teamwork depends on the level of acceptance one another’s cultures. More elaborately, cultural and intercultural competences acquisition should be seen as an inevitableness for the global manager and his team. A number of misunderstandings during international cooperation illustrates the need of early cultural and intercultural competences acquisition – it may begin during studies at university. An investigation into various teaching methods that help to acquire cultural and intercultural competences may be considered as a helpful facet in one’s future successful professional life. Two innovative teaching methods are to be discussed here: role-play games and case study aiming to reveal a pattern of possible ways of solving a problem or dealing with a controversial issue in business.
Key words: cultural, intercultural competences, management, teaching methods
1. SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATION IN BUSINESS BY MEANS OF CULTURAL AND INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCES
Successful collaboration in an international busi- ness environment is considered to be a huge challenge for managers nowadays. First of all, a widespread knowledge of common and specific issues connected with a particular business is needed. Secondly, un- derstanding the aspect of cultural and intercultural similarities and differences and acquisition of mana- gerial communication competences should be seen as an inevitableness for gaining success of international teamwork or gaining advantage in entrepreneurship. The following article focuses on the second mentioned facet. At the beginning this article offers a short inves- tigation into the meaning of cultural and intercultural competences. It also illustrates the relationship (or dependence) between them.
The analysis of cultural and intercultural compe- tences cannot be understood without explaining two important definitions concerning this area: the defini- tion of culture and intercultural communication. The research on the two aspects demonstrates that there is a certain variety of defining (or classifying) them.
1.1 Explaining the basics of culture and intercultural communication
While analyzing the concept of culture Heringer (2004: 182) and Markowsky/Thomas (1995) con- centrate on the so called standards of culture that can be taken into consideration as a kind of orientation in a foreign country (Markowsky/Thomas 1995: 7). G.Hofstede/G.J. Hofstede (2001) identify particular dimensions of culture which are national and regional descriptions of culture (ibid., 2001:29). It is important to mention that the given explanations are only two points of view when it comes to understanding cul- ture – there are about hundred different definitions of this term.
A study of existing definitions of intercultural com- munication also reveals a huge amount of explanations depending on a particular context. Lüsebrink (2005) defines intercultural communication as „the com- municative dimension of relations” (ibid., 2005:7). A similar point of view can be also observed in other publications (e.g. Mikułowski Pomorski 2003: 11). Bolten (2007) points out the meaning of the term interculture: “Intercultures are created when the mem- bers of different worlds A and B cooperate with one another (…)” (ibid., 2007: 22). Thomas (2007) refers that intercultural communication should be connected with intercultural acting (ibid., 2007: 56). The scien- tist appeals to the psychological perspective: “acting [is] a specific form of behavior” (ibid., 2007: 56) that can reveal particular intentions, goals and motivation (ibid., 2007: 56). On the other hand Hofbauer (2009) criticizes intercultural communication – in his point of view intercultural communication “isn’t interested in other cultures very much” (ibid., 2009: 18) – instead of this it tries to “smoothen” the communication by concentrating on intercultural misunderstandings (ibid., 2009: 18). More detailed analysis of culture and intercultural communication is beyond the scope of this article.
1.2 Explaining the idea of cultural/ intercultural competence and communicative competence
The basics of intercultural communication are considered as a helpful factor at understanding cultural and intercultural competences which enable global managers to be a successful leader and achieve chosen goals with their team.
Intercultural and cultural competence may be understood as very similar which can be explained more precisely with reference to the explanation of communicative competence that is highlighted as a pre- cursor of the mentioned definitions (House 1996: 1): according to House communicative competence was defined by Dell Hymes who established it as a gram- matical, psycholinguistic and sociocultural knowledge of a foreign language learners (ibid., 1996: 1). This term is a combination of two aspects: the psychical and the social facet (ibid., 1996: 1).
A different way of perceiving communicative competence is presented by Canale/Swain (1980). Both authors agree that communicative competence consists of four different, connected with one another competences: the grammatical competence (learning vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar rules), so- ciolinguistic competence (understanding a particular cultural context), discourse competence (the certain using of grammar rules while speaking so that the content can be understood), strategic competence (ac- quisition of different verbal and non-verbal strategies of communication) (ibid., 1980: 1-47).
As already mentioned, the term communicative competence is connected with the terms cultural and intercultural competences. This article attempts to show innovative teaching methods that can be used to prepare students for an international cooperation with members of other cultures. That is why there will be given a more detailed description of cultural/ intercultural competence acquisition.
Logical and consistent reasoning suggests that “cultural competence refers to the process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each” (NASW 2001: 11). National Association of Social Workers (NASW) set the following Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice: ethics and values, self aware- ness, cross-cultural knowledge, leadership and skills, empowerment and advocacy, diverse workforce, pro- fessional education, language diversity and service delivery (ibid., 2001: 4-5). The mentioned aspects may be indicated to global managers as essential compo- nents of existing in an international and intercultural environment.
Thomas supports the statement that intercultural competence is a kind of ability to accept the foreign reality (Thomas 2000: 59). Thomas (2003) puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that intercultural competence acquisition can help to avoid intercultural misunder- standings and try to solve problems that occur in the international business environment (ibid., 2003: 141). Wierlacher (2003) provides an explanation concern- ing intercultural competence – it is understood as a creative order existing among the members of various cultures (ibid., 2003: 216). Myczko (2005) carries out an exploration of intercultural competence and points out that this aspect should be considered as inevitable while interpreting information coming from represen- tatives of different countries (ibid., 2005: 29). Also Wilczyńska (2005) gives a description of intercultural competence: it is “a perfect knowledge of a foreign country and its culture; a perfect knowledge of two cultures that enables to compare them with each other, to see the contrast and differences (ibid., 2005: 22).
Bolten (2005) supports the idea that the knowledge of habits or traditions and some characteristic ways of behavior do not ”guarantee” acting in an intercultural way (ibid., 2005: 41). That is why the innovative teach- ing methods such as e.g. role-play games or case study focus on a very important aspect which is intercultural learning. Extended it means that after a certain class students should learn how to recognize the cultural diversity and how to become interculturally compe- tent (Biechele/Grau/Müller 2003: 60). The innovative teaching methods such as e.g. role-play games or case study should help to prepare the students for a future collaboration in an international team.
2. ROLE PLAY GAMES AS AN INNOVATIVE TEACHING METHOD
The study on role-play games reveals a pattern of results which show the meaning of a role play from a methodological point of view: role playing may be considered as a kind of students’ preparation for their future professional life. The aim of role-play games is to deal with a difficult (or sometimes controversial) issues which could possibly be a part of one’s daily routine while working as a global manager and being a part of an international team. Taking into consider- ation the fact that there is a huge diversity of potential problems in an intercultural environment, the subjects of role plays can also be interpreted as widespread. Teachers who approve of this teaching method are primarily interested in developing their students’ cre- ativity, motivation, self-awareness and language skills (if the method is applied during a foreign language class e.g. a business English class).
A review of the literature on role-play games shows a variety of definitions. According to Oxford English Dictionary role playing may be defined as “acting out or performance of a particular role, either con- sciously (as a technique in psychotherapy or training) or unconsciously, in accordance with the perceived expectations of society as regards a person’s behav- ior in a particular context” (http://oxforddictionaries. com/definition/role+playing). Yardley-Matwiejczuk (1997) emphasizes that “many role play situations involve presenting participants with a predetermined scenario, which is felt to be entirely consistent with the aims of the role play instigator and his or her aims for participants” (ibid., 1997: 81). Morales (2008) stresses the fact that “students need to be given permission to play and explore. Role-play can help them play with personal problems. It allows them to be spontaneous be releasing creative energy. By gathering together in a safe environment of the classroom to hear and share stories, all students can feel they have a place in their cloass, school and community (ibid., 2008: viii). The teacher’s role is to be a helpful guide (ibid., 2008: viii).
Here are some examples of role play games that can be used during a business English class (the given examples concern working in pairs):
Students A and B are colleagues who work together in marketing department. At the moment they are trying to come up with the best idea of advertising for an innovative model of Volkswagen.
Student A: Try to convince your colleague that TV and magazines are the best way of advertising.
Student B: Try to convince your colleague that Inter- net is the best way of advertising.
Student A and B are colleagues who work together in personal department. These days you are searching for a new employee for marketing department.
Student A: Try to convince student B that Mary Jones is the best candidate because she seems to be very creative, enthusiastic and eager to work. She has a M.A. in management and knows all the theories of advertising products. The only disadvantage concerns the fact that Mary has no experience.
Student B: Try to convince student A that Tom McKay is the best candidate because he has a lot of experi- ence in marketing area. He seems to be very profes- sional and successful. Tom has never graduated any university.
Student A is an employee and student B is an employer.
Student A: You know that it is hardly possible to take a few days off these days, because the whole team is focusing on an important merger. The problem is that your wife has just given birth to your child. Try to convince your boss that you really need to spend this time with your family.
Student B: The merger in the company is a priority for you. You do not care about any private matters of your employees these days.
Student A and student B are taking part in a job in- terview.
Student A: You are an employer who searches for a new receptionist in one of his hotels. The new em- ployee should be educated and able to solve various problems concerning the hotel and the guests matters. He or she should speak English, German and Spanish and be ready to spend the whole week in the other part of Poland (because your hotel is exactly there). Suggested salary: 4,000 PLN gross.
Student B: You’ve always wanted to work as a recep- tionist and you like this job offer. You are educated and you have a lot of experience. The only problem is that you do not speak Spanish. The suggested salary also does not satisfy you – you would like to earn at least 5,000 PLN gross.
3. CASE STUDY AS AN INNOVATIVE TEACHING METHOD
Our challenge is to better prepare the managerial linguist or business graduate with communication skills which will enable him or her to successfully negotiate through a web of multicultural complexities.
Our goal is to manage Business English education and the acquisition of Business English managerial competencies to reflect the cultural, racial, social and linguistic diversity present in both globalized trade and in the world economy. The final product is a well-educated business graduate who is not only able to communicate in English, but is well aware of the existing diversity and challenges which he or she will face in the future. The present strategies and methods of managing Business English education do not provide complete answers to the above dilemma. Today’s methods largely focus on acquiring either ESP (English for specific purposes), or on independent BET (Business English teaching). Additionally, most Business English courses focus on developing general communication skills. Our curriculum inheritance is characterized as follows:
• Historically, Business English teaching and management methods were mainly adaptations to course books.
• The original assumption which was the founda- tions of the courses, that is, the grammar/vo- cabulary dichotomy, is invalid. This dichotomy produced ineffective and time consuming methods.
Peter Daly from the EDHEC Business School (Lille – Nice, France) has also observed case studies avail- able to language learners and teachers and elaborates on a methodology of how these case studies can be exploited to maximize student-talking time in the lan- guage classroom. He has stated, “Not all case studies are the same and with different levels of difficulty and skills trained the choice of case study is tantamount to the success of your class” (Daly, 2002).
The most important consideration case study preparation and teaching is thorough case review and appropriate Internet-based support provided to each group commensurate with their level. The use of e-learning resources support business, intercultural management communication and managerial skills acquisition in addition to language skills. My method differs from Daly’s method, in which the principal goal is language acquisition with secondary attention given to the general business managerial communication skills required for one to become competent in today’s intercultural world village. According to Daly, “Case studies are extremely rich in content and can provide the learner with the potential to consolidate already acquired knowledge and train specific language and managerial skills. Language teachers inexperienced in the use of the case study method may be inhibited by the content-based nature of the case study and therefore shy away from using case studies in class. This teaching methodology should help teachers plan their classroom to ensure effective execution of a case study”. (Daly, 2002) Daly supports the notion of using suitable case studies which are not too content-led and do not presuppose an in-depth knowledge of a specific subject matter. This is, I believe, a viable alternative. “While there are various publications on the market which respond to the language teachers’ needs, there are some books that offer simulations with prescribed roles” (Crowther-Alwyn 1997; 1999), while others integrate mini-cases at the end of each chapter dealing with a specific topic such as international marketing or finance (Cotton, Falvey & Kent, 2000; 2001).
3.1 Why the case study method ?
At this point, I will address some obstacles that instructors discover in utilizing case study methods. Some of the factors which contribute to instructor “discomfort” are as follows:
• they do not feel confident;
• they have never used cases in the past;
• Business English books come with CD’s, and tests, and teacher support materials;
• the case study process is too loosely structured to some instructors who are inured to regimen- tation and predictability of textbooks;
• reaction to each case is unpredictable;
• Business English books usually carry reputable names and are recommended;
• case teaching may initially require more inten- sive preparation;
• e-learning support requires the possession of suitable technology and a good grasp of this technology.
Instructors who are accustomed to a transmission style of teaching may feel that teaching is not really happening if they use simulations or case studies (Daly, 2002). However, the advantages of case studies are numerous. Some of them are set out below adapted from Daly:
• It is possible to train managerial communica- tion skills, such as holding a meeting, negotiat- ing a contract, or giving a presentation. Case studies force students into real-life situations that require them to get involved in managerial communication.
• The research often elevates the students’ knowledge of the complexities of the inter- connected human environment. I believe this makes them better world citizens.
• Case studies foster collaborative learning and team-working skills in the language learner.
• Improvement of the student’s organizational skills can be substantial as case studies are sometimes very dense in information. The key is to condense this information into logical sec- tions and organize them so that a clear picture of the problem/issue emerges.
• Case studies can be used to improve the stu- dent’s written and oral communication. Non- verbal communication skills are also practiced by using case studies as students work together in close-knit groups.
• An instructor without a business background may be trained to effectively facilitate group of students who are studying a case.
It is very important to explain the case to students and in some cases read the case with them to explain what is expected. One can never assume that provid- ing a student with an Internet link to a case, along with a brief explanation of the case, will suffice. I have often found that many advanced non-natives or native speakers do not possess adequate Business English vocabularies. Native speakers in the business community do need to study Business English, as it is a specialized ability and a skill that must be acquired.
3.2 Blended learning support for case studies
It is the role of the teacher to prepare learning support for the case using the e-learning arena, while adjusting his or her explanations according to the needs of learners. In this way, the teacher is both a facilitator of learning and students acquire both Busi- ness English, but also managerial and intercultural management skills which complement the English language competence.
Daly notes, “As far as interactive case studies go, two distinct types of case studies can be identified: those that provide the learner with targeted content input to practice a specific skill such as negotiating, interviewing, problem-solving or decision-making (Castler & Palmer, 1989), and those which are more free to interpretation and call on the teacher to choose the preferred methodology and classroom strategy.” (Witte, 1999). I advocate methods of case utilization that are based on a combination of analytical review of available options and the discussion of pros and cons of the proposed solutions. The teacher should present business challenges and reference them to current events. The on-line e-learning must be monitored by the instructor to ensure the sources and sites are at a level appropriate for the linguistic level of the partici- pants. The presented problems should accommodate the dialectics of the of Harvard case exploration that is flexible and allows for team and self-directed change. Also, the presentation of each case should accommo- date adult learning theory: in other words, the material is meaningful and relevant to each student; the differ- ing levels of case study difficulty that are available respect the fact that different adults learn at different speeds; parallels may be drawn between the students’ own language and culture and those of English during the learning process; presentation respects the unique learning needs of adults such as cultural sensitivity and grammar acquisition difficulties; and finally, explana- tions of difficult concepts may be made in the students’ native language.
3.4 The syncretic case study method
I propose a new paradigm for the instruction and management of Business English and communication in management teaching. The new paradigm includes the following points:
• Intensive teacher business management and postgraduate training in case study utiliza- tion, supported in an blended learning arena, before attempting utilization of case studies in the business English to enhance managerial and intercultural management communication competence acquisition.
• The language teacher should use original ar- ticles on business topics from the press, such as (Newsweek, The Economist, the business section of daily papers from the US, Canada, Australia and the UK, which are available on the internet daily), as well as government websites in English, websites from organiza- tions including the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), the
EU (European Union), UN (United Nations), and those from the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and various non- governmental organizations (NGO’s).
• Steve McKenna, of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, has correctly observed, as I see it, that the highly analytical Western Ontario case study method and the dialectical Harvard case study method are not mutually exclusive.(McKenna, 1999) The synergy of these two methods is in detailed orchestration and modification of both methods. I call this new paradigm the syncretic case study method.
3.5 Formulation of the Syncretic Case Study Method.
At present, the use of case studies in Business English as a means of acquiring managerial and inter- cultural communication competence for second lan- guage learners is rare in undergraduate studies where Business ESL and communication in management is taught. Case studies, however, are more often part of the curriculum in graduate, postgraduate and executive Business English and communication in organization education courses. In most cases these courses lack the blended learning intensive support and intercultural communication management component that is needed for the successful implementation of this method.
McKenna observes, “We should expect, however, that the material in and substance of cases, and their interpretation, will vary constantly as they are used with different groups, of different ages, genders and cultures. In addition, we should also expect that the ways in which cases are used in learning will be dif- ferent.” McKenna makes a distinction between two ways of using cases. He states, “Firstly, there is the so-called Western Ontario analytical approach. It is argued that this approach offers a framework for analysis and management decision and has a number of characteristics (Gilbertson and Gilbertson, 1995):
• the case is carefully read;
• the problems are defined;
• the information is summarized;
• the information is analyzed;
• the problem definition is re-examined;
• a number of alternatives dealing with the prob- lem are generated;
• each alternative is assessed according to its advantages and disadvantages;
• the alternatives are then evaluated.
In the interest of achieving competency in both Business English as a second language and acquiring managerial competence, the following adjustments to the “University of Western Ontario” method should be made:
• The case should be carefully read; and difficult vocabulary, idioms, etc., are to be explained using monolingual means while utilizing e- learning support.
• When the problems should be defined, the main problem is highlighted by a Business English instructor. The secondary case chal- lenge should only be discussed with advanced groups.
• The information should be summarized and explained using simple sentences. Clarity in communication is emphasized.
• The information should be analyzed using graphs and a monolingual dictionary with a thesaurus.
• The problem definition is re-examined using a secondary dictionary and an encyclopedia on- line only if needed for clarity communication acquisition competence
• A number of alternatives to dealing with the problem are generated; this can only be ac- complished at intermediate to advanced levels.
• Each alternative is assessed according to its advantages and disadvantages.
• The alternatives are then evaluated by the students, but only at upper intermediate to advanced levels.
• Whenever possible the facilitator of learning (a qualified instructor) should relate the case situation to local and regional socio-economic developments, cross-cultural, business and management trends that are eloquent of the global situation and how this situation mean- ingfully impacts the individual, his family, friends, business, communication competenc- es, intercultural management and society.
• Students recommend an alternative and a strategy for implementation (for intermediate level and above).
• Students recommend an implementation plan, including the parameters of monitoring and control (for upper intermediate levels and up).
• Students present the plan in a formal presen- tation (for intermediate levels and up) while the teacher acts as a guide; the instructor is available for consultation, for explanation of difficult concepts, for assistance in assignment of roles to team members, and for clarification and confirmation of established goals.
The second method of using cases is the “Harvard” method. This method is more Socratic in style. McK- enna states, “The case is explored through dialectic, “Where truth is relative, where reality is probabilistic, and where structural relationships are contingent” (Clough, cited in Barnes et al., 1994). It is an ap- proach, which is premised on enabling “students to discover and develop their own unique framework for approaching, understanding, and dealing with business problems” (Clough, cited in Barnes et al., 1994). This approach mixed with an above “Western Ontario” is particularly appropriate to advanced learners of Eng- lish, but can be modified for groups at lower levels. Related to the syncretic case method, McKenna sug- gests, “It could be argued that the “logic of enquiry” captured in the “Western” approach and the “process of discovery” represented in the “Harvard” method are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. We ap- ply creative and imaginative discovery processes, for example, to the “problems” involved in a case and then apply the logic of enquiry to move towards a solution and recommendations. In fact, it might be said that we fit the two styles together, as some writers have done, to provide another approach: the consultancy method (Gilbertson & Gilbertson, 1995). However, such an argument oversimplifies the essentially contradictory nature of the rigid and analytical “Western” approach which focuses on the outcome, and the dialectical “Harvard” approach, which focuses on the process. Furthermore, whereas the “Western” approach is concerned with “doing something”, as indeed is the consultancy method, after the application of a template of enquiry to a problem(s), the “Harvard” approach is more free-flowing in its discussion of case issues. (McKenna, S. 1999. Organisational learning: “Live” case studies and the consulting process journal. Team performance management).
3.6 Implementing the Syncretic Method in Class of Managerial Linguistics.
The syncretic case study method is designed spe- cifically for the acquisition of Business English and management skills as an intercultural communication competence. The present target student population at the Poznan University College of Business studying managerial linguistics, hotel management, internation- al management and Global Partnership Management Institute are our Business ESL and management stu- dents, and groups of managing executives throughout Wielkopolska province/ongoing research 2007-pres- ent/. We have somewhat modified Daly’s case study classroom method based on his approach. Daly has divided this section into three parts:
• case study introduction which deals with the preparation of the case study and the introduc- tion of a problem solving analysis;
• case study class work; here the class is di- vided into sections which include meetings, presentations of findings and discussion of recommendations;
• debriefing the class; this is when the instructor gives feedback on language mistakes, managerial skills and the meeting documents and support materials used (Daly, 2002).
It is extremely important that the case studies are well prepared in advance so that each student knows what his or her role is. It is not sufficient to simply give the case study to the student and hope that they will understand how to use it. This is a mistake made by many instructors unfamiliar with the case study method. There are many ways for an instructor to intro- duce the case study to his student. The implementation of the syncretic method as I describe in the following paragraphs pertains especially to pre-intermediate and intermediate Business ESL and management sciences students:
The first step in using the case study method is to read the case study thoroughly with your students. Here you can address lexical and grammatical diffi- culties. Having your student groups each display the background information in a visual form is helpful to discussions of the groups. Use of the blackboard, whiteboard or flipchart to get a clear picture of the company background. As you can see in this example, the main information has been extracted from the case study, which is used later for further analysis.
Communication and Managerial Support Experts Inc Turnover :
Profit in 2011: $190000, 00
Number of Employees: 36
Head Office: Chatham, Ontario, Canada
Product and Service Range: Executive and Specialized Communication Support Communication, Outsourcing , Managerial Services Customer Service Excellence and Innovation
3.7 An Example of Visual Representation of Background Information in a Case Study
The instructor guides students in the research on the company which is the object of the case study. I often have students finding a company webpage, if possible. On-line literature can be of rich source of background data on the company, including such things as stock exchange data, the rank of the com- pany in the industry, its market competence and the company’s perceived role in the business world and society. This research and background reading helps a student acquire Business English competence, and contributes to the development of critical evaluation skills, so essential as both a business professional and as a private citizen. We recommend extracting only two or three key points to maintain clarity and cogency of communication.
After the case study has been initially examined, provide the students with some input on how they should analyze the case study. The problem solving analysis below is an example of how to get the stu- dents to analyze the case critically. During the case exploration phase, the main focus must be on analyz- ing, synthesizing, emphatic management, and critical evaluation of options.
During all phases of the case study process the fusing of the Western Ontario and Harvard case study methods are implemented. The syncretic case method is identical to the Western Ontario method structurally, as outlined below:
• read the case several times;
• define the main issues/problems;
• set out the firm’s objectives;
• identify options open to the firm;
• draw up some criteria to evaluate the options chosen;
• select the best option;
• decide on how the option should be imple- mented;
• draw up an action plan to implement the solu- tion chosen.
Despite the method being focused on outcome, as in the Western Ontario method, the students are to imple- ment the dialectic process of the Harvard method in all phases. That is to say, the creative and imaginative process through dialectic argumentation (Harvard) is required of the group during each phase. Assuming a case study group of six students, the students will rotate into at least one of the three key positions which help facilitate the Socratic approach. During each phase, for example, the three pivotal positions are: group leader, visionary, and Devil’s Advocate. The group leader maintains the work and the related discussions; the visionary, is responsible for creating a range of possible explanations, and scenarios with subsequent branches and sequels; the Devil’s Advocate plays the eternal critic and nay-sayer regarding proposals and decisions. Our observation is that the Western Ontario method gives a sense of form and order to the case study process, which for most students is comfort- able. The Harvard method is programmed into all the phases and becomes highly ritualized. Nonetheless, the participants internalize a very important skill: the capacity for self and group scrutiny and skepticism of individual and group decision-making. The well- known pitfalls of cognitive dissonance and Group Think theories should serve as cautionary signposts to both students and instructors. During all phases, the instructor serves as a facilitator to ensure the balance between the two methodological currents.
Importantly, the instructor must pre-teach the lan- guage required to discuss the case study. There are many publications on the market for teaching meeting, presentation or negotiation skills. It is important to select the skill you would like to focus on and teach the specific language. If we take meetings as an example, instructors could do some of the following:
• refer students to web sites to read up on the skill being practiced; a web search will reveal any number of interesting sites;
• if students have access to libraries, then they can read up on meeting skills in one of the many communication books on the market;
• brainstorm some key concepts of meetings, such as the type of meetings, the people at a meeting, verbs, etc.;
• move on to the language of meetings: provide the students with useful language input for both the chairperson and the participants, such as the language of contradicting and disagreeing, interrupting, taking the floor etc.;
• familiarize the students with the documents of the meeting – the form and content of agen- das, minutes and memos; this should provide the student with more language input such as matters arising out of the last meeting, absen- tees, etc.;
• divide the class into small groups; you can either ask them to form the groups themselves, or you can form the groups based on your class lists.
A case study is best discussed in small groups of four to six students. However, it is possible to divide 36 students in a seminar class into six groups of six and have them work on the same case. Students should be reminded it is the nature of business to expect the unknown (many elements of the case may never be known) and take managed risks to reach conclusions.
4. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
In our intellectual exploration of the possibilities regarding the instruction of Business ESL and man- agement teaching a quote from Professor Ronald H. Coase, a Nobel memorial prize winner in economics in 1991 for his pioneering work The Nature of the Firm. Advancing the Knowledge, has remained as source of guidance for us. Professor Coase stated, “We should begin by taking a walk into the street and studying the real problems of the economic system” and continue, but it’s no good starting off with your techniques and then looking around for a problem to use them on” (Parkin M., & Bade, R. 2000. Economics, University of Western Ontario Canada, Addisson-Wessley LTD)
It has become clear to me that further research and funding is needed to more accurately discern which specific skills, and at what level, are essential and how should they be taught, fostered and developed in busi- ness students to equip them for successful interaction in a multicultural intertwined context. Successful com- munication and interactions in the future will require:
• an intermediate or higher level of competence with English;
• sensitivity to other cultures and intercultural awareness;
• sensitivity and receptivity to other ‘Englishes’;
• and, most importantly, competence in cross- cultural and intercultural communication.
We recommend using case studies to supplement present Business English and management teaching programs in colleges and universities. It is estimated that increasing the use of case studies to 20-30% of course content at the pre-intermediate and intermedi- ate levels, and 30-50% of instruction based on case studies at the upper-intermediate to advanced levels in tourism management and service university courses. Our experience tells us that the study of grammar, syntax, semantics and structures can largely be done using case as an example of the text before or after discussion of the case.
We are often confronted our own notions of what is really important for our students. It is a source of our professional meaning. We think that the most valuable skill that may be acquired from case studies are the abilities involved in dealing with the unknown.
Both study on role-play games and syncretic case study method reveals a pattern of results which show the meaning of a role play and syncretic case study from a methodological point of view: role playing may be considered as a kind of students’ preparation for their future professional life. The aim of role-play games is to deal with a difficult (or sometimes con- troversial) issues, while syncretic case study method prepares students to deal with unknown which is a part of daily routine while working as a global manager in a multidisciplinary intercultural team. Taking into consideration the fact that there is a huge diversity of potential problems in an intercultural environment, the subjects of role plays can also be interpreted as widespread. Teachers who incorporate these teaching method are primarily interested in developing their students’ creativity, motivation, self-awareness and language skills (if the method is applied during a foreign language class e.g. a business English class, managerial topics such as marketing, management, international business, intercultural management, eth- ics and business as well as in practical English studies as a second language acquisition).
Dealing with difficult and controversial issues and managing unknown is a crucial skill for a future mana- gerial linguist , company manager, business graduate economist or social scientist. The current era especially is punctuated by accelerating change, and the unknown is ubiquitous. In our own way we hope our efforts continue to provide innovative bridges and solutions.
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PETER / PIOTR ODRAKIEWICZ, PHD Dean Poznan University College of Business Honorary Vice-Rector
and Visiting Professor Global Management Institute Director of Scientific Research Ambassador Academy of Management HR for Poland 2008-present firstname.lastname@example.org
JOANNA ZATOR-PELJAN, PHD Assistant Professor Vice-Dean Poznan University College of Business POLAND