Studying globalisation on a Business Studies English for Academic Purposes course

Name

Edward Bressan

School/Department

Oxford Brookes International

Activity

Group presentations: pre-sessional students taking a business studies course are very interested in globalisation but it is a very broad area which can be technical and impenetrable on an introductory course. This activity allows students to explore how glocalisation has affected their cultures and to share knowledge of how companies adapt a global brands to each of their countries.

Group

5 mixed nationality groups of 4 students from Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Japan, China and Russia.

Aim

To develop critical awareness amongst students of how global brands are positioned in their own countries. This allows them to draw on their own personal experiences of living in two or more cultures and to understand how the various political, social and economic undercurrents shape how business is conducted. This enables them to develop global citizenship skills in an authentic setting.

Context/Background

Academic English pre-sessional courses prepare students for the linguistic, intellectual and social demands of higher education. This group of students are taking a business studies introductory course which emphasises inter-cultural communication.

Example

Imagine that you are a British exporter who is planning to export a new product to your country and that of your group partners. You are keen to standardise your products where possible as it is costly to customise products for each individual market.

Which of these products would need to be customised and why? Give some examples of the type of customization that would need to be made:

Product or service

Type of change required

Example

E.g. Fast Food McDonald’s in France (USA Vs France)

To make the company look less American and appeal to French children’s national heroes

 

The company uses Asterix in promotions instead of Ronald McDonald

Food products

 

 

Books or Media

 

 

A presentation was then given to the rest of the class.

Results/Feedback

This activity generated a lot of discussion and two main conclusions were reached by students:

  1. Products and services are a lot less standardised than they had imagined
  2. Globalisation has a long way to go before it threatens local culture(s)
Both of these outcomes generally contradicted students’ initial views which they later described as being superficial. 

Other comments

The fact that this activity was embedded within an authentic business task helped students to speak more authoritatively about issues with which they have an in-depth understanding. Representatives of each nationality were accorded “expert” status within the group.

Further Information

Please email Edward Bressan ebressan@brookes.ac.uk