With one of the strongest economies in the EU, humming at 2.7% growth, and commercial deals up 65% year-over-year to €2.6 billion, the Czech Republic would seem a fitting field trip for a crop of MBAs hoping to put international business into context.
A study tour to Prague, the Czech Republic’s capital, was seemingly a highlight of the MBA at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) for Shaswati Panda. “It was designed to give us a first-hand account of an economy which was at a different growth stage to the UK….But what was unique to this trip was the combination of formal and experiential learning,” says the full-time MBA student.
Shaswati and some of her cohort stayed in the city for seven days in the first week of April. The itinerary included company visits, talks with economic experts, and entrepreneurs. It gave the MBAs a chance to sample the Czech Republic’s history and culture — and an opportunity to assess its economic, ethical, and management issues.
The International Business in Context module has seen students fly to India, China, Turkey, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Below, three LUMS MBAs share their Prague experiences (and photos) with BusinessBecause.
Prague’s rich culture and heritage, and its growth plans and policies — and how they impact its people and economy — gave me insight that you do not get in a developed country. I came back from the trip not only with an understanding of the country’s business and management styles and issues, but equipped with more awareness of how culture shocks can be tackled, and how studying people’s history and education systems can help unite them towards a common goal.
As a future business leader, I would say the trip has shaped the way I think and behave for the better — that is something that will help me navigate through diverse workforces in any economic condition.
It has made me aware of the things that I should bear in my mind when I am in a country that has different needs and viewpoints than my own.
No matter how aware you are about the cultural differences around you, a visit to a new country can surprise you. There is always so much to learn by observing people and new exposure gives you a fresh perspective.
The International Business in Context module makes the LUMS MBA unique. With seven years of experience in the oil and gas industry outside of my home country Ghana, I have had the opportunity to live and work in several countries, and with several nationalities. However, the visit to Prague still taught me a lot.
The trip helped me to stay more open minded. We had visits to Tesco, Amazon, and met various people who spoke about doing business in the Czech Republic. It was a convergence of all that we have learnt in the LUMS MBA thus far. It’s equally exposed quite strange but interesting cultural differences between the Czech Republic and its neighbours, such as the tiny details of their shopping preferences. As a manager, you will need to be open to diversity.
We heard from experts on the Czech economy and the current retail and marketing trends in the Czech Republic, and also had an interesting entrepreneurial take on doing business in a transitional economy by an American entrepreneur who arrived in Prague not long after the Velvet Revolution.
Luckily for us the weather was mostly warm and sunny during our week there, so we were able to enjoy the evenings. There was a lot of time for exploring the city and some of us took the opportunity to go paddle boating on the Vltava River in the evenings. Some also caught performances at the Czech Symphony Ballet and most of the cohort took the opportunity to sample the many excellent Czech beers at cafes and restaurants near the Old Town Square.
It was interesting to hear from one of the guest speakers that the Czech people are generally distrusting of statements made without supporting evidence. Having being subjected to decades of dominant ideologies, from the Nazi occupation to the Soviet era, they are wary of propaganda and prefer to hear the facts and relevant data before they make informed decisions.
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