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The global experience as a necessary learning context

The current globalization of business, combined with the mobility of a global workforce, drives today's professionals to live, work, study and relocate in many different cultures throughout his life. The labor market continues to evolve with more than a billion people entering the workforce around the world. Recently, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that the global workforce will reach 3.5 billion people by 2030. This makes students who obtain qualifications with experience relevant to the needs of global organizations and their workforce are highly demanded

However, many argue that higher education is not preparing students, especially business students, for the demands they will face when entering a global workplace. Whether managing international employees, understanding ethics across cultures, overseeing complex global supply chains or navigating global markets, the need to develop a portfolio of globally competent professionals is urgent and essential. Unfortunately, decades of debate within management education have focused on the definition and measurement of the concept known as "cultural competence". Questions such as which attributes are necessary to define and be culturally competent and what is needed to develop cultural competence among new talent in an organization have dominated our discourse. This ongoing debate distracts our attention from the larger issue of how to develop the levels of cultural competence that drive organizational outcomes. It's time for us to focus on what it takes for a person to demonstrate mastery rather than simply cataloging a list of attributes that will never lead to consensus in the cultural and industry context.

I argue that such a change in our dialogue is necessary to develop effective tools and programs for the next generation of professionals and business leaders with global awareness. Recent projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that university degrees in international business will grow by 19 percent by 2020, and that these people spend a significant part of their careers outside of their country of origin, whether on extended international assignments or on frequent short-term international trips. trip. This means that while our previous emphasis on cultural awareness (sometimes also called consciousness) is a legitimate issue, the challenge for us is to stop considering cultural competence as a trait that one possesses or does not possess and move towards a view of competencies. based on results that we can develop and show its impact. Refocusing our attention also generates more efforts to develop tools that help students and young professionals to stop acquiring knowledge about culture to truly develop the skills needed to proactively use this knowledge to manage diverse cultural relationships and interactions, and create results. of added value.

This perspective follows closely the notion of "situated learning", in which the most important thing is the level of a person's ability to respond in a specific way (as a specific culture) in terms of actions, reactions and interactions. learning as the result of a social and cultural process that shapes the ways of thinking, perceiving, solving problems and interacting with other people that are different from our cultural background. As a result, the learning process is not separate from the world of action, but rather coexists in a way that challenges us to respond to dynamic, complex, social and global environments. Therefore, the tools we must use to develop cultural competence must be located within a meaningful experience that is context-specific and professionally relevant.

At Pitt Business, we find that our most powerful tool for developing a cultural competency based on results is global experience . We can take advantage of the early and continuous global experience to facilitate real-world situations as the path to the development of students' ability not only to understand, but also to act, react and interact in diverse cultural environments. Our Global Business Institute is not a study abroad experience, but an integrated approach that uses global experience as a necessary extension of business classroom learning. Developing the skills for our students to navigate as employees or leaders within a global workforce means going beyond awareness and focusing on preparation, collaboration, behaviors and results. It is important that we focus our attention on the need for meaningful and integrated experiences that are an extension of the learning environment. This is what prepares students properly for what is coming, both locally and globally.

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