Thursday, May 29, 2014

First Week at Hanze

Most of us arrived in Groningen on Wednesday to get settled into our "homes" for the next 3 1/2 weeks.  The students are housed in individual rooms in apartment/dorm type buildings with cooking facilities, close to campus (about a 5-minute bike ride).

On Thursday classes began:  8:30 for orientation followed by two 2-hour lectures, one on intercultural management and the second on developing market entry plans.  This program has three tracks:  Intercultural Management; Marketing; and the Eurozone.  As part of the intercultural management we will be receiving lectures on doing business in all the major countries of Europe.  The marketing track consists of lectures and group projects in market research, market entry plans, and sales "pitches."  The Eurozone track covers the economic and legal aspects of the European Union.  I am very impressed with the quality of the professors and the interactive nature of the classes.  Students come from universities in the U.S., Canada, Africa, and Hong Kong.  Other countries are represented, as well, with students' home countries of Brazil, Guatemala, China, Germany, and Viet Nam.  

At right, the main building for the business school at Hanze - easy to spot when trying to navigate the bike ride to campus. There is a lot of interesting new and old architecture both on campus and in town.

After grabbing some lunch at the cafeteria, (note to future students: classes start at 8:30 and often don't break for lunch until 1:30, so eat breakfast, or bring food to snack on between classes - eating in class is frowned upon) we received our bikes.  Almost everyone in Groningen, professionals and students alike, use bikes for transportation regardless of the weather.  After an introductory bike trip into the city center (about 20 minutes) we rode out to the Groningen soccer stadium for a tour.  Then back into town for a welcome dinner - at a Chinese buffet restaurant!  The program leaders said Dutch food isn't any good, so most group meals will be at ethnic restaurants.  Hmmmm.
 A few other buildings on the Hanze campus.

On Friday, Monday and Wednesday of this first week we had classes from 8:30 until 4:30 or 5:30.  On Tuesday we had a bus trip to Papenburg, Germany to visit a ship building company, Meyer Werft.  (One class on Monday was preparing for this visit by learning a bit about the company and developing questions to ask during the visit.)  This is a very impressive 200-year-old company that builds massive cruise ships.  In addition to a tour of the "factory" we met with their corporate head of R&D for a very interesting look into the company culture and strategies for the future.
Upon return from this trip, the students spent three hours working with a sales training professional to develop their "pitches" to deliver to an executive at Philips later in the program.  (Wednesday's classes included time to formally "debrief" lessons from the Meyer Werft visit.)

For our first weekend in the Netherlands, Hanze arranged a tour through Groningen, Friesland, and North Holland provinces on Saturday to learn about the various types of dikes and the Dutch water management expertise.

 I was surprised to see several thatched roofs on building during our tour of the provinces.

After a drive across the long Afsluitdijk (which cut off the Zuiderzee from the North Sea, turning it into the brackish freshwater IJsselmeer), we visited the city of Enkhuizen and the Zuiderzee open-air historical museum. One of the treats here was to taste old-fashioned smoked herring:

Sunday was our first free day and it was a beautiful, sunny day - perfect for exploring the city. (Though most people speak English here, since it isn't a tourist city very little is printed or presented in English.  So signs, menus, and church service are in Dutch.  There is an English service at the Catholic church on Sunday evening.) 

So that's been our first week.  More later!

A preparation note for future students:  Groningen is not a large tourist city.  This means many restaurants and stores do not accept U.S. credit cards (they use chip and PIN cards that the U.S. hasn't adopted as of 2014).  If students choose to obtain Euros ahead of time, be aware that any bills larger than a 50 Euro bill are not accepted at most places.  (Even the local bank wouldn't change one student's 500 Euro bill!  Only the money exchange at the train station would break a large bill - for a fee.)  Best solution is to have an ATM card that will work here to obtain Euros without a foreign exchange fee - check with your bank ahead of time. We even ran into a few places that didn't accept cash or U.S. credit cards, only the European PIN & chip cards, so let's hope the U.S. banks catch up soon.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Doing Business in Europe Summer Term Pre-Work

Hope students have just finished their semester final exams and papers, so now those who will be participating in our new summer exchange program with Hanze University can begin the pre-program assignment.  Hanze requires each student to prepare an economic and cultural profile of the Netherlands before participating in their "Doing Business in Europe" program.  Students were sent instructions about the type of information to be covered in these profiles (described in another post). Additionally, they each need to select one of four possible new products, around which marketing project teams will be formed during the program.  This year's projects:  electric cars, Google glasses, SK energy shots, or smart watches.  The cultural and economic profiles are to be developed with the chosen product in mind since these will be used in the market entry plans developed during the program.

Dutch Cultural and Economic Profile Outline

Cultural Profile
  1. Start with a description of your chosen product to be exported to the Netherlands
  2. Brief discussion of the country’s relevant history
  3. Geographical setting (location, climate, topography)
  4. Social institutions
    1. Family (the nuclear and extended family, family dynamics, parental roles, marriage rates, female & male roles, changing or static roles)
    2. Education (the role of education in society; quality and levels of development of primary, secondary and higher education; literacy rates)
    3. Political system (political structure and parties, stability of government, special taxes, role of local government)
    4. Legal system (organization of the judiciary; code, common, socialist or Islamic law; participation in patents, trademarks, and other conventions)
    5. Social organizations (group behavior, social classes, clubs and other organizations, race & ethnicity subcultures
    6. Business customs and practices
  1. Religion and aesthetics
    1. Religion and other belief systems (Orthodox doctrines and structures, relationship with the people, prominent religions, religion membership levels, powerful or influential cults)
    2. Aesthetics (visual arts, music, drama, dance, other performing arts, folklore and other relevant symbols)
  2. Living conditions
    1. Diet and nutrition (typical meals, malnutrition rates, foods available)
    2. Housing (types of housing available, prevalence of rent and own, prevalence of one family and multi-family dwellings)
    3. Clothing (national dress, types of clothing worn at work)
    4. Recreation, sports, and other leisure activities (types available and in demand, percentage of income spent on such activities)
    5. Social security
    6. Healthcare
  3. Language
    A. Official language(s)

    B. Spoken versus written language(s) 
    C. Dialects
  4. Negotiation Style
    Economic Profile 
     I.  Population
    1. Total (growth rates, birthrates)
    2. Distribution of population (Age, Sex, Geographic areas [urban, suburban, and rural density and concentration], Migration rates and patterns, Ethnic groups)
    II. Economic statistics and activity
    1. Gross national product (Total and rate of growth)
    2. Personal income per capital
    3. Average family income
    4. Distribution of wealth (income classes, proportion of the population in each class, distortions)
    5. Minerals and resources
    6. Surface transportation (modes, availability, usage rates, ports)
    7. Communication systems (types, availability rates, usage rates)
    8. Working conditions (employer-employee relations, employee participation, salaries and benefits
    9. Principal industries (proportion of the GNP for each, ratio of private to publicly owned industries)
    10. Foreign investment (opportunities, which industries)
    11. International trade statistics (major exports dollar value and trends, major imports dollar value and trends, balance of payments surplus or deficit and recent trends, exchange rates 
    12. Trade restrictions (embargoes, quotas, import taxes, tariffs, licensing, customs duties)
    13. Extent of economic activity not included in cash income activities
    14. Labor force (size, unemployment rates)
    15. Inflation rates 
        III.   Developments in science and technology
    A. Current technology available (computers, machinery, tools, etc.)
    B. Percentage of GNP invested in research and development
    C. Technological skills of the labor force and general population
    1. Channels of distribution and channel middlemen available within the market.
    1. Retailers (number, typical size of retail outlets, methods of operation - cash/credit, scale of operation - large/small, role of chain stores, department stores and specialty shops)
    2. Wholesale middlemen (number and size, customary markup for various classes of goods, method of operation - cash/credit)
    3. Import/export agents
    4. Warehousing
    5. Penetration of urban and rural markets 
    V.   Media (media available within the country or market)
    1. Availability of media
    2. Costs (television, radio, print, internet, other [cinema, outdoor, etc.])
    3. Agency assistance

    Executive Summary
    • After completing all of the other sections, prepare a two-page summary of the major points and place it at the front of the report. The purpose of an executive summary is to give the reader a brief glance at the critical points of your report. Those aspects of the culture and economy a reader should know to do business in the country but would not be expected to know or would find different should be included in this summary.