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UO Business: The Magazine, Summer 2017

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10 UO BUS I NE S S : T HE M A G A Z I NE // SUMMER 2 0 17 S T U D E N T S WE WERE FOUR STUDENTS, WITH FOUR DIFFERENT FIRST LANGUAGES, FOUR NATIONALITIES AND ETHNICITIES. O regon MBA students had an uncommon opportunity to work with peers representing eight universities and 20 different countries. Some 300 students made up 79 teams. Their task: Create a business proposal aimed at convincing investors to support the creation of a new business in a specific country. "We were four students, with four different first languages, four nationalities and ethnicities, and from four vastly different cultures tasked with creating a detailed business proposal based in a fifth country," explained MBA candidate Adam Kantor. The seeds of the collaboration were planted about two years ago when assistant professor of management Reut Livne-Tarandach was assigned the course managing individuals and organizations as part of her teaching load. She activated her network, including those at her alma mater, the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology. Technion has coordinated cross-cultural, multi-university group learning projects for more than a decade. Assigned Brazil, Lundquist College MBA candidate Kim Nguyen and team presented Esperança ("hope" in Portuguese), a maker of bio-jewelry—or jewelry made with naturally occurring materials, such as seeds or shells. The nonprofit organization would teach workers the trade of eco-based jewelry making while providing social services, including workshops, healthcare, child care, and education opportunities. Nguyen is from Vietnam and has been living in Oregon for five years. For her, some reverse culture shock set in as she recalled standards for personal and business interactions back in Vietnam and how they differ from the United States norms she now sees as typical. A prime insight the project afforded is to not apply one's worldview to teammates, Nguyen said. Instead, be aware of cultural differences while embracing cultural commonalities. Another Lundquist College MBA candidate, Peter Lindholm, was also tapped by his group to serve as team leader for its waste energy plant venture in Thailand. "Short, frequent meetings tended to keep us productive and on track," he said. "There were some mix ups, but 20-minute check-ins kept things from going off the rails. Each also brought unique skills to their roles. The student from Hong Kong had strong graphic design skills, whereas the student from Madagascar was a little older than the others and had the most on-the- ground business experience, Lindholm said. The team gelled brilliantly and was the number one finisher in Livne-Tarandach's class and placed in the top 5 percent overall. A tremendous amount of self-reflection is inherent to the project, Livne-Tarandach noted. In addition to the students' experience, the project offered up a research opportunity. The professors collected data on students' characteristics and experiences in multiple points in time, Livne-Tarandach explained. Some of the measures tracked differences on key factors related to cultural intelligence and identity. The results show that within a period of four weeks of working in cross-cultural teams, UO MBA students showed significant increase in global identity, local identity, and cultural intelligence. B Y A NNEM A R I E K NEP P ER - S JOBL OM

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