Monday, June 2, 2014

Typical Class Day

Today (Monday) started with a country cultural profile: today's was France.  Most of the country cultural profiles reference Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions (power distance, collectivism/individualism, etc.) especially as they relate to doing business in that country.  For instance, France scores high on Hofstede's power distance scale, so when doing business with a French firm you need to send someone at the same hierarchy/status level as the person you are working with.  The woman teaching the class is French and now teaching at Hanze University.  (All the professors giving the country profiles have either been born or raised in the country for which they are presenting the cultural profile.)

The second session of the morning focused on pitching an entrepreneurial idea.  Groups of 4-5 students had to come up with an idea and develop a "pitch" to present to a Philips executive when we visit there later this week.

After lunch we went to a lecture on the Financial Systems in the EU (the first of two 2-hour sessions).  The topics covered here include: What is money? Money demand & supply; Inflation and monetary policy; Europe's financial system and the Euro; Financial markets; Foreign exchange markets; exchange rate determination; Risk management and hedging; Euro crisis and financial crises of the past.  The discussion on "What is money?" began with productivity and comparative advantage, specialization and division of labor, bartering and transaction costs, the need for undifferentiated purchase power, leading to the invention of money as one of mankind's most notable social inventions.  We got into discussions about what determines money demand, inflation, quantitative easing, the need for an independent central bank, and the benefits of the Euro. (The final exam at the end of this course will include questions on these topics.)

The school day ended with our second session on the European Business Environment.  This one was an overview of the various ways of market entry, their advantages and disadvantages: Export houses, brokers, and trading companies; Direct export through local agents; Direct export (DIY); Joint ventures; and Foreign Direct Investment.  This lecture ended with a caution about having the right terms and conditions and tools in place to get paid, regardless of which method one uses to enter a market.  The lecturer had several interesting stories from his personal experience that illustrated how you can't just assume every country's culture is to automatically 'follow the rules' and pay according to what you thought was the agreement or contract.

This day ended with a social activity in which the students all gathered at their dorm/apartment building for a potluck dinner where every student made a dish from their local culture, so they will feast on dishes from the U.S., Canada, Guatemala, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, China, Viet Nam, South Africa, Tanzania, and ?????

And that was just Monday!

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