Dr. S. Tamer Cavusgil, director of the CIBER program at the Robinson College of Business, with the students who participated in the "global competency" initiative.

Forty five Robinson College of Business undergraduates received “global competency certificates” on April 14 at the Rialto Center for the Arts downtown for participating in an optional international business course providing skills necessary to be an effective manager in today’s global environment.

Leigh Anne Liu, an associate professor at Georgia State University‘s business school, told Global Atlanta that today’s business managers are required to be knowledgeable about global issues and mindful of navigating cultural complexity.

She added that the world is more complex than often assumed and provided the example of the widespread belief that Americans are individualistic in their pursuits and ambitions while Chinese are more collective in their beliefs and habits.

But there are many paradoxes in the world,” she said. “For instance many Chinese are good ping pong players, an individual sport, while Americans may be good at basketball, a team sport.”

The course provides guideposts for how to build meaningful relationships in cross-cultural situations and how to cultivate sustainable resilience by developing ways of dealing with stress. “It’s important to learn what will recharge us when working in a foreign country or working with different kinds of people,” she added.

According to Dr. Liu and the other designers of the course at the college’s Center for International Business Education and Research, global competency enables individuals to reduce risk and maximize opportunities while achieving results in cultural complex situations.

Sometimes just trying another kind of food or remaining curious about the situation you are in is what it takes,” Dr. Liu said.

Although graduate students in Georgia State’s global partners and masters of international business courses have been trained in these skills since 2011, the pilot project demonstrated that undergraduate students have the potential to develop new competencies and possess ample learning capacity to improve their global competency.

The initiative was launched because students need additional “global immersion opportunities,” and enhances their market value upon graduation, according to the course overview. It also jibes with a goal of the university strategic plan “to develop leaders who engage the societal context of global markets.”

They will need to be socially flexible and emotionally sensitive,” Dr. Liu said. As an example of how a manager might need to provide different incentives in different cultural contexts, she cited the desire for individual awards in the U.S. while in India or elsewhere team-based incentives may be more appropriate.

The student’s experience was monitored rigorously with both an assessment of their skills prior to taking the course and afterwards.

Aside from interacting with guest speakers such as Ahmet Bozer, the retired president (international) and executive vice president of the Coca-Cola Co. and Rahim Charania, CEO of American Fueling Systems as well as S. Tamer Cavusgil, who directs the college’s CIBER, Dr. Liu and Ilke Kardes, a course instructor, the students participated in online instruction offered by Aperian Global, providers of global talent development and learning solutions.

Each candidate prepared Power Point slides about a world region assigned to them and provided a briefing on its leadership and communication styles, core values and implications for business in a specific country.

In time the initiative is expected to be scaled in include the larger Robinson College and Georgia State student body. For a video of students’ reactions to the course, click here.

To learn more about the course, call Farrah Joy Bernardino, CIBER’s managing director, by sending an email to gsuciber@gsu.edu or by calling 404 413 7431.