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A Cultural Rationale for International Business Internships

The International Business Internship and the Student R~sum6 “Business German”‘ has become an accepted component of Ger- man programs all over the United States. There are as many definitions for “business German” as there are instructors who have developed courses within the parameters of their own individual programmatic and institutional strengths. The curricular responses to the unprecedented increase in the demand for business German have been accompanied by a corresponding interest in obtaining international internship experiences for students who have completed their more formalized classroom study. Much of this interest stems from a sense, both on the part of business German students and their instructors, that the internship increases the student’s marketability upon graduation.2 Such international work ex- perience is particularly attractive to future employers whose own expe- rience has led them to value experience abroad in the practical education of American managers for international assignment. Indeed Stephen J. Kobrin, discussing his survey of American multinationals in the research report titled International Expertise in American Business, reveals that American business professionals rate experience abroad as the single most important factor in the development of international expertise. Kobrin writes: Both the survey and the interviews indicate that it is experience abroad, particularly experience that involves substantial interpersonal interaction, that is most important in developing international expertise. In fact, vir- tually all (95.1%) of respondents who had worked abroad felt that experience was important, and 69 percent rated the experience as critical.3 Monatshefte, Vol. 83, No. 3, 1991 243 0026-9271/91/0003/0243 $01.50/0 A 1991 by The Board of Regents of The University of Wisconsin System This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to 244 International Business Internships 245 It is indeed a “tall order,” and it is rarely accomplished well. Typically, the assessment of business internships has been left to workplace super- visors who vary greatly in their willingness to participate in the assess- ment process. The quality of the intern experience itself, as well as the assessment, is to a large extent dependent upon the willingness of su- pervisors to see themselves as an integral part of the learning situation. Unfortunately, whether considering the area of domestic or international work experience, it is a lamentable fact that a great many supervisors are less than enthusiastic about the added responsibility of intern training and assessment. Thus, if instructors themselves do not become involved in the quantification of goals and the assessment of learning in the in- ternship programs they organize, the internships are likely to remain in the category of “experience” rather than become opportunities for “ex- periential learning”, as they should be if they are part of an academic program. As Yves Benett points out in his article, mere activity does not necessarily constitute a learning experience. Experience and experiential learning are distinct concepts and as Benett and Evans, also a researcher in the area of experiential learning, agree: if the ‘intellectual test’ of moving from a description of experience to iden- tifying the learning derived from that experience cannot be accomplished, there is no learning to assess, however important to the individual that experience may have been.8 Without the establishment of assessable objectives for an internship ex- perience, students are placed in a situation in which their mere presence in a work environment is somehow expected to ensure some sort of learning experience automatically, if only within the parameters of the more traditional business internship goals of refinement of professional/ technical skills. Just as we cannot assume that a domestic internship will automat- ically lead to learning in the professional/technical skills area, we cannot assume that merely placing a student in a foreign country on an inter- national internship will automatically result in a degree of language skill refinement and intercultural understanding. As the cross-cultural psy- chologist Stephen Bochner has suggested, an unprepared and unmoni- tored internship experience may in fact increase hostility, suspicion, and tension in the new culture. Changes in attitude do not follow automat- ically from mere exposure to another culture. Changes in attitude involve a “reordering of the individual’s cognitive structures”‘9 which cannot be achieved in a setting from which one is unprepared to extract experiential learning. This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to 246 Paulsell Business Internships: The Issue of Academic Integrity Any internship within an academic program should be far more than “just a job.” An “intern” is not yet a full-fledged member of the chosen profession; much like an apprenticeship, an “internship” is still a learning situation in which the intern is being introduced into a profes- sion. Internship experiences should be conceived and implemented in such a way that assessable learning can take place. Such experiential learning should not be left to chance, but should be integrated as an experiential component into the business language curriculum. The in- ternship should be conceived in terms of the same types of quantifiable objectives which are the foundation of an academically sound business German curriculum. As academic professionals we are all concerned that credit-bearing activities be established on an academically sound foundation. We have all heard the cries of colleagues who do not consider internships valid “academic” experiences. Where students have been left to “experience” the workplace without the benefit of articulated experiential learning goals, such criticism may be justified. In procuring internships for students’0 one is almost always bargaining from the “beggars can’t be choosers” position; one must take what is offered, regardless of whether supervisors in the company are willing participants in the “intern ex- perience.” This is particularly true with international internships. Suc- cessful arrangements are often dependent on good rapport between the instructor and company supervisors which is difficult to establish without multiple overseas visits. Each internship situation is analogous to a drama with a substantially different script and cast of players. For the most meaningful experience the faculty supervisor must consider all of the variables and ensure that the student intern is appropriately cast and directed. In a series of three papers presented between 1985 and 1987, Barney T. Raffield discusses his role as a faculty supervisor of internship expe- riences.” Raffield places the responsibility for the academic integrity of internship experiences with the faculty supervisor. He notes that faculty supervision should focus … upon the acquisition and utilization of knowledge, and the application of skills to actual practice. It is essentially a teaching activity, and the assumption is that the intern learns by doing and by integrating his or her feelings, intellect and performance. The intern-faculty supervisor relation- ship is the fundamental catalyst in on-the-job learning situations.’2 Raffield agrees with much of what has been written about supervision of work experience in the social science sector, where the role of the faculty This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to International Business Internships 247 supervisor is seen as much more active in helping to shape the learning experience than is normally the case in business internships. Kadushin (1976)” has suggested that the faculty supervisor must help the intern to take some order and meaning from his or her on-the-job expe- rience. The faculty supervisor can help the intern identify those principles that can provide him or her with an understanding of what he or she needs to do to improve the quality, both academically and professionally, of what he or she is experiencing during the internship.’4 Raffield, however, expects a level of involvement from the faculty su- pervisor, especially in the area of multiple on-site visits with the interns, which is unrealistic for all but a few well-funded international internship programs. Most of us are not only faculty supervisors, but also instructors with teaching and service commitments and very little financial support for internship activities. Nevertheless Raffield’s application of social sci- ence principles in his assessment of the business internship environment is well conceived. International Business Internships: The Cross-Cultural Training Dimension With the importance of the role of the faculty supervisor and a concern for academic soundness of the internship experience in mind, we should focus our attention on the establishment of objectives for business German internships. All three objectives of domestic internships mentioned above, i.e. acquisition of technical skills, development of fa- miliarity with professional situations, and further development of inter- personal skills in a professional milieu, are also applicable in the inter- national internship situation. These objectives, however, relate to the development of technical and professional skills in specific business-re- lated areas, areas which we as foreign language educators are normally not qualified to objectify or assess. For example, if a student who is a double major in finance and German is placed in an internship at a bank in Berlin, most of us are not qualified to set objectives or assess the experiential learning within the area of the finance skills being used and developed at the bank. However, the fact that this internship occurs in a different cultural environment adds a dimension which offers us a unique foundation upon which to establish goals for international in- ternship experiences. As professionals in German language and culture, we indeed are qualified to assess internship experiences in the area of language and cultural learning. From this perspective, the integration of the internship experience into the language and cross-cultural training and learning goals of the business German curriculum is self-evident. This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to 248 Paulsell At this juncture it might be beneficial to explore briefly the nature of the cross-cultural learning and training component which best serves our business German students in preparing for careers in international business. Since their inception in the late 1970s business foreign language curricula have been justified on the basis ofa need to address the appalling lack of international awareness on the part of American managers. This deficit has been blamed for the continued decline in the competitiveness of American business in both international and domestic markets. This criticism, leveled largely from the federal government in reports like “A Nation at Risk,” appeared at a time when foreign language and culture study in the U.S.A. were reaching alarmingly low levels. “Business lan- guage” courses not only served to attract more students into foreign language study, students who were interested in “more practical” appli- cations of language skills, but also filled the perceived need to raise the level of international awareness of students majoring in fields where lan- guage study had not been encouraged (e.g. business, engineering, etc.), many of whom would become future American managers. Many of those involved in developing business German courses realized, however, that specialized language study alone would not ac- complish the goal of raising levels of cross-cultural awareness in future managers to the level needed to address seriously the problem of the competitiveness of American business in internationally dependent mar- kets. To address that task it is necessary not only to go beyond language study per se, but also beyond the usual definitions of”culture” with which most of us as professionals in the teaching of “German language, liter- ature, and culture” are familiar. Our discussions within our discipline have traditionally dealt with definitions of”culture” as either “small c,” i.e. how to read the train schedule or what color and number of roses to bring to your hostess when you are invited to someone’s home for dinner, or “capital C,” i.e. a focus on German philosophy, history, literature, art, etc. While the items contained in both categories undeniably manifest certain aspects of “culture,” they are not capable of revealing culture in the degree of complexity which will seriously meet our students’ and our nation’s needs. In our discipline we have typically disdained “culture,” while tol- erating its ubiquitous presence, particularly in our introductory textbooks and courses. Going to the other extreme, we have virtually mythologized “Culture” in texts and teaching at almost all levels, while, curiously, ignoring the deeper layers of cultural meaning which have traditionally been the domain of our colleagues in the social and anthropological sci- ences. Indeed, Michael Byram, in his Cultural Studies in Foreign Language Education, laments the fact that “the intuitions of many foreign language This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to International Business Internships 249 teachers-trained through the study of literature and linguistics-are un- refined by those academic disciplines which are the most appropriate support for Cultural Studies”.”5 If we are now serious about meeting the needs of”a nation at risk,” then we must base our cross-cultural training of future managers in international business on much more complex definitions of culture. The task falls, at least at this time, primarily to us as educators in the area of language and culture, because our business schools and business community have not yet fully recognized the need for more sophisticated cross-cultural training for future generations of managers who will be increasingly called upon to function multiculturally. Despite the fact that recent business periodicals have devoted more attention to the subject of developing international awareness in Amer- ican managers, the statistics do not reveal that any meaningful change has been effected within the past ten years in the actual performance of American managers on international assignment. Many articles in busi- ness publications have decried for the last decade and still decry the lack of international expertise among American managers. The level of ex- patriate failure-indicated by premature returns of expatriate managers after unsuccessful stays abroad-has not diminished but rather remained stagnant or increased in the past ten years. A 1979 survey referred to a failure rate of about 33%,16 while in 1990 the rate was cited as fluctuating between 25% and 40%.’7 The average cost per failure to the parent com- pany was from $55,000 to $150,000, a major contribution to the billions of dollars lost every year, not only through ineffectual and/or failed man- agement, but also in lost contracts, weak negotiations, and other rami- fications of insensitivity to cultural difference.’8 As one might imagine, a similar analysis of our fiercest rivals in the international marketplace reveals a considerably different story. The Jap- anese, who currently outmaneuver us in almost any phase of business in which we compete, also outstrip us in the category of expatriate failure rates. A 1982 survey put the Japanese expatriate failure rate at less than 5%,19 while a more recent survey showed that 86% of Japanese multi- nationals had failure rates below 10% for their expatriates.20 While the two particular surveys do not tell us whether the expatriate failure rate is absolutely increasing or decreasing for Japanese multinationals, the point is that the Japanese rate is significantly lower than the American, running at roughly 1/4 of the cited American figures. Could this difference have anything to do with the fact that, on average, Japanese managers spend two years of company time preparing for their expatriate man- agement role,2′ whereas their American counterparts typically receive less than one month of pre-departure training of any kind, with language and culture training coming primarily from contractual arrangement with commercial teaching/training organizations, notably Berlitz and InlinThis content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to 250 Paulsell gua?22 In addition, in an astonishing 23% of responses to the 1985 Inman survey (up from 16% in 1977), absolutely no pre-departure training of any kind was offered to those going on overseas assignment or required of them. Inman also reported that less than 4% of the mainly Fortune 500 companies surveyed indicated that language and cultural knowledge were required for expatriate assignment, about 25% felt it was “desirable, but optional,” and 30% had no official policy. Those who did require foreign language and cultural knowledge felt that minimal survival skills were all that was necessary.23 The majority of firms still view English as the quasi-official international business language; in the Inman survey, over 70% of companies reported that business was conducted both do- mestically and internationally only in English. Thus, even with increasing global competition, the situation with respect to a perceived need to formally train expatriate managers in foreign languages and cultures has changed very little.24 In characteristic fashion, many U.S. companies re- tain the short-sighted view that “training programs are a waste of re- sources”;25 it is a view which will lead to increasing deficits, not only in our balance of trade figures, but also in our ability to compete effectively for smaller and smaller pieces of interdependent market pies which the Japanese and Europeans will increasingly dominate. The prevalence of outdated thinking about language and cultural proficiency within American multinational firms, among cross-cultural training consultants, and in business schools themselves, does not bode well for the future of American competitiveness in international markets. Gary Hogan and Jane Goodson, in “The Key to Expatriate Success,” plead for better preparation of American managers for overseas assign- as adequate preparation for overseas assignment and what language and ments, recognizing the deep division between what American firms view culture professionals view as appropriate training for successful inter- cultural communication. They call for U.S. companies to learn from the Japanese when preparing expatriate managers adequately for their as- signments. This is a request with which language and culture professionals can identify: Managerial training should focus on developing a new set of skills for a new culture. The intensity of the training will depend on the manager’s knowledge of and experience with the specific culture and the degree of difference between that culture and the manager’s own culture. The first step should be a program that focuses on the specific culture and how its relationships with employees, co-workers, and the environment differ from what the manager is used to. Training should then aim at developing com- munication, leadership, conflict management, and other skills that fit the particular culture. Because language skills improve cultural understanding and business relationships, companies should develop training geared to the person’s skill levels.26 This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to International Business Internships 251 Hogan and Goodson then go on to suggest that American companies have not taken language and culture training seriously; expatriate effec- tiveness is too important to international corporate success to be taken so lightly, they argue. Companies should require sophisticated language and culture training programs “to ensure that their expatriate managers have the skills needed to operate effectively in the new environment.”27 Rather than heeding a call for more sophisticated training programs for expatriate managers, however, American companies are much more likely to increase their hiring of host nationals, as Lennie Copeland points out in “Training Americans to do Business Overseas.”28 This response to expatriate failure was documented in Kobrin’s study, where 50% of the firms surveyed reported a decrease during the last ten years in overseas assignment of American managers, with 26% reporting no change.29 Both Copeland and Kobrin agree, on the other hand, that such maneuvering will not solve the problem, because “no matter what the staffing patterns, somewhere along the line multinational firms, by definition, have people of different cultures in contact with each other.”‘3 The increase in this contact is what Kobrin refers to as the “internationalization of managers”: American firms have matured internationally during the last two decades. Many no longer see themselves as U.S. companies with some overseas business, but rather as multinational companies serving worldwide markets. The impact of internationalization on the managers of these companies, however, has been paradoxical. On the one hand, opportunities for expa- triate assignments have been significantly reduced. Fewer Americans are stationed abroad now than in the past, both in terms of absolute numbers and, especially, relative to the volume of business done overseas. On the other hand, in the large international companies that are the subject of this study, the odds that any manager will be involved inter- nationally have risen dramatically. People in “domestic jobs” find them- selves involved in a substantial number of cross-border and crosscultural interactions. Plant managers in Michigan find that they need to coordinate production with their counterparts in Munich and Mexico City and pur- chase materials from Korea or Taiwan….31 As Kobrin goes on to point out, this situation suggests a potential prob- lem. American managers used to obtain international expertise through their company by living and working overseas, but this option is dis- appearing with the decline in overseas assignments. At the same time, the demand for international expertise due to increased international involvement of American business is increasing significantly. Kobrin ex- plains: “‘International’ is no longer the arcane purview of a small cadre of managers but is rapidly becoming a component of a wide variety of domestic jobs.”32 If companies are no longer willing to finance expatriate experience abroad and this fact necessitates a further cutback on the This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to 252 Paulsell existing pre-departure training programs, the question arises as to where minimal language and culture exposure of American managers in the few future managers are going to receive the international training which they will need. Since American companies have traditionally not heeded the call for more sophisticated approaches to training their international man- agers, it becomes incumbent upon us as educators to prepare our students to enter the international business arena. Obviously, to meet the changing needs of a paradoxically more internationalized American business set- ting in which fewer managers are being assigned overseas, these students must be educated in a sophisticated way which prepares them simulta- neously to function not only in one host environment, i.e. the bicultural competence that we have traditionally sought, but also to function on a level of intercultural competence in a more general sense. The goal of “Multicultural Competence” can be built into the business German cur- riculum, through a three stage approach emphasizing (1) a knowledge and information based component for the classroom, (2) an experiential component built into the international internship experience, and (3) an assessment and integration component achieved through debriefing ac- tivities after the student’s return to campus life. Achieving Multicultural Competence: Goals and Assessment The explicitly stated strategy of achieving “Multicultural Compe- tence” through classroom, internship, and re-entry components should be to bring students closer to “multiculturalism” as it is understood by cross-cultural psychologists and social scientists. Margaret Pusch, in the introduction to her volume Multicultural Education: A Cross-Cultural Training Approach, defines “multiculturalism” as that state in which one has mastered the knowledge and developed the skills necessary to feel comfortable and communicate effectively (1) with people of any culture encountered and (2) in any situation involving a group of diverse cultural backgrounds. (By ‘comfortable,’ we mean without the anx- iety, defensiveness and disorientation that usually accompany the initial intercultural experience.) The multicultural person is the person who has learned how to learn culture-rapidly and effectively.3 This is certainly an ideal, but one worthy of approaching as closely as we can, because, as Pusch discusses further, such multicultural individ- uals become “mediating” people capable of bridging the gap between cultures and working out global cultural relationships. This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to International Business Internships 253 Integrating such cross-cultural training into the student’s business German classroom, internship, and re-entry experiences is greatly assisted by the research of our colleagues in social science, cultural anthropology and cross-cultural psychology. There we find not only information useful for setting goals for the classroom and the experiential learning of the internship situation, but also for planning and implementing learning assessment. Optimally, cross-cultural training within the business Ger- man curriculum should be comprised of three phases: (1) a cultural aware- ness phase which prepares the student to receive input from other cultures in a positive way; (2) a cultural use phase in which the student practices what was learned in the classroom and consciously reflects upon expe- riences in the culture; and (3) a cultural processing phase in which the returned student is assisted in objectivizing and integrating the cultural observations and interactions experienced while on the internship. The cultural use phase can only be fully realized through an internship or a similar immersion experience in the culture. The cultural awareness and cultural processing phases are, in fact, best carried out in the classroom within the native culture. During the cultural awareness phase, the role of the teacher in the classroom is crucial. As Michael Byram writes: … the teacher’s control over cultural learning is crucial, and..,. the place which teachers most fully control, the classroom rather than the period of direct contract with the foreign culture, has a significant role to play in preparing learners so that their reaction to the direct contact will be a desirable one. What then should foreign language teachers be trying to do? What kind of cognitive and affective changes should they hope for and how should they render the environment and experience propitious for these changes?34 During this phase the goal should be nothing less than a measurable change in student attitudes toward other cultures; such changes can only be brought about, Byram argues further, by changes in cognitive struc- tures. Cognitive structures which reflect cultural meanings must be the focus of the teacher’s efforts during the cultural awareness phase. These cognitive structures or schemata not only define what is “foreign,” but also determine how individuals view their own ethnic identity. If per- ceptions of others and attitudes toward them are to change, then per- ceptions of one’s own self and ethnic identity must change.35 One way to effect change in students’ views of their ethnicity is to present them with a new experience of their ethnicity: This can be done by presenting them with a foreigner’s view of their eth- nicity, with the intention that their existing schemata of their own ethnicity shall change when they cannot cope with the new experience. Such new This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to 254 Paulsell experience needs, of course, to be agreeable and non-threatening, so that pupils are prepared to change their schemata rather than reject the expe- rience by assimilating it to their existing views of foreigners; they must be helped to take seriously foreign views of themselves which differ from their own, and to adjust their own to give recognition to the foreign views.36 Particularly useful in introducing German views of American ethnicity are German newspaper and magazine articles which deal with German perceptions of American society. Here, the students are on familiar ground, their own ethnicity, and revealing discussions can ensue sparked by the perceptions of the “outsiders.” Articles from German business publications which are normally used for their factual content can, thus, be used for the purpose of improving cultural awareness. However, as Byram mentions,”37 these types of materials are not easy to find. It is rare that Germans give accounts of their own ethnicity or write exclusively about their perceptions of others’ ethnicity. But one does not need to locate full length articles of this sort to build cross-cultural awareness. Of equal, if not greater value are the bits and pieces of difference in cultural perceptions which constantly crop up in articles of all kinds. One must, first, simply learn to be more sensitive to the existence of cultural bias in writing of all kinds, and, second, be more creative in preparing and incorporating such articles into the course materials. Another excellent technique is to make use of videotaped interviews or to invite native Germans (business people) into the classroom to discuss their perceptions of American culture. After students have begun to come to terms with their own views of themselves and their values and assumptions, the next step in the cultural awareness phase is to help them reconsider their views of for- eigners, to change their perceptions of foreign cultures in general and of Germans in particular. The cultural awareness phase can only be accom- plished by educating our students in the discipline which focuses upon cultural studies, social anthropology.38 This classroom cultural self-as- sessment phase is best in English; some exercises may be done in German, but use of the native language will allow students far greater freedom to explore their views and will result in much more stimulating discussion. A complete discussion of teaching strategies for the integration of the cultural awareness component into the business German classroom is beyond the scope of this article, but there are any number of excellent texts and handbooks dealing with multicultural education.”39 Many con- tain both an introduction to the disciplinary foundation of multicultural education as well as interesting and creative exercises and teaching strat- egies in perception, self-assessment in values and assumptions, listening, communication, simulations, etc. These exercises can bring an exciting new dimension not only into the foreign language classroom in general, This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to International Business Internships 255 but into the business German classroom in particular. One need only refine the more general goals discussed here to focus more strongly on the subcultures of the German and American business environments.4″ The goal of the classroom phase in increasing cultural awareness is to bring students to the point where they are fully engaged with their own perceptions and their own communication patterns, where they are able to break through their cognitive defenses and realize that cross-cultural misunderstanding relates to them in their own cultural here and now, rather than to “them,” the outsiders out there.41 The students must be secure in their own culture and positively identify with it, must be aware of the degree to which they are culturally conditioned, and must respect and appreciate cultural differences.42 “It is the function of cross-cultural training to provide the framework and content for that kind of learning.”43 Provided that we have successfully achieved this goal (and there are ways of assessing it),44 we have prepared students as much as possible to make a positive experience out of the immersion into the German (business) culture which the internship experience will provide. The second or cultural use phase of the cross-cultural learning com- ponent of the business German curriculum can only be achieved through first-hand experience in Germany. The overseas internship provides the perfect opportunity for the student to put into practice the more general theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom awareness phase. Optimal learning is achieved when students become recorders of their reactions to residence in Germany and to the internship experience in the sub- culture of the business environment. In the classroom, the instructor carefully constructed the “other cultural perspective on new experience”’45 and prepared students to recognize certain coping mechanisms which they would inevitably use when maximally stressed in dealing with that other perspective. In the other culture, students have to massively re- organize cognitive structures on their own-a large-scale undertaking which, even with the best of preparation, will inevitably lead to some “culture shock.” “Culture shock” should not, however, be viewed neg- atively. Indeed, if a student recognizes the causes and phases of this cultural disorientation, it can be used as a basis for experiential learning during the internship experience. There is now considerable debate in progress among professionals in the area of cross-cultural training concerning the nature of “culture shock.”46 But most agree that there are four readily identifiable stages through which most “outsiders” pass as they attempt to deal with un- familiar cultural environments. Some outsiders progress through all four, some remain locked in stage one, depending on one’s psychological make- up and the specific circumstances one encounters. The terminology var- ies, but the stages can be identified as: (1) “Fight,” in which the ethnoThis content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to 256 Paulsell centric impulse dominates and one defensively over-affirms one’s own culture. (2) “Flight,” which involves a withdrawal from interaction in the other culture. (3) “Going Native,” in which one takes on the values of the other culture and attempts to slough one’s own cultural identity. (4) “Adaptation,” in which one tries to comprehend the other culture and adapt one’s behavior appropriately, while at the same time affirming one’s own cultural identity.47 As noted earlier, it is the objective of the “cultural awareness” portion of the curriculum proposed in this article to prepare students before departure to be at stage four, but, realistically, we all know that, no matter how well prepared, students will experience some disorientation, not only from the “other” German culture, but also from the change from the subculture student group to the business sub- culture. If students have been made sufficiently aware of cultural difference and the phenomena associated with “culture shock,” they are prepared to recognize their own protective reactions to cultural stress. Student interns should keep a journal in which they reflect upon these experiences. The journal entries will provide the foundation for the cultural processing phase, which supplies the framework for personal growth at the individual level which transcends any of our more specific goals for intercultural learning. This process could indeed lead to the kind of personal growth necessary to bring our students to the threshold of becoming the “me- diating individuals” we mentioned earlier, individuals who can “select, combine and synthesize the appropriate features of different social sys- tems … people who have the ability to act as links between different cultural systems, bridging the gap by introducing, translating, representing and reconciling the cultures to each other.”48 According to Sharon Rubin, a personal journal provides, “good raw material for helping students demystify an experience through analysis of issues of self-identity, per- ception of the world, motivation, relationship to others, type of activity, etc.”49 Rubin is, however, not discussing international internships, but rather domestic internship experiences. The novelty of her approach is to apply, as we have been arguing here, sociological methodology in the preparation for and implementation of the internship experience. She sees cultural difference inherent in the fact that the student is leaving the student subculture behind and entering the business/professional sub- culture. Students therefore will undergo a type of “culture shock” very similar to what a person experiences during an extended stay in a foreign country even in situations within their own culture. Rubin also suggests that students keep journals as a way of monitoring their feelings and reactions and reflecting upon their experiences. Our business German This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to International Business Internships 257 students, then, must be sensitized to monitoring reactions to cultural difference and reflecting on experience at more than one level. For the business German internship to be integrated into our cur- riculum in an academically sound way, it must, as argued earlier, con- stitute experiential learning which has identifiable and assessable objec- tives. Of course, any one of a number of different sets of objectives are possible. However, a natural integration, commensurate with our roles as language and culture instructors, is made possible if the internship is viewed as the cultural use phase of a three stage cross-cultural learning component of the business German curriculum. The cultural use phase must be preceded by a cultural awareness phase in which students are prepared for the cultural immersion experience. The keeping of a journal that is oriented toward cross-cultural awareness is essential to the cultural use phase and helps students reflect upon their own individual growth and objectify it. At this point, however, the learning experience remains incomplete because most students require feedback and further process- ing of their cross-cultural experience before they begin to approach the goal of “intercultural competence.” A cultural processing phase must follow up on the internship ex- perience. Once again, a lengthy discussion of possible methods which could be used in cultural processing would go beyond the parameters of this article. But, since there has been no discussion of this important station on the road to “intercultural competence” in our professional literature, a few suggestions will be offered here. During this phase the journal can serve two functions. It can provide the foreign language instructor with a basis for evaluating the internship experience in cross-cultural terms as well as for assisting the student in processing the cross-cultural learning. A first step toward closing the loop in the intercultural learning experience for each intern could be the writing of a longer essay,5″ after the student’s return to campus, based on the individual incidences and observations recorded in the journal. Here the student would be required to reflect in retrospect on the experience, to identify key incidents, and to summarize in a more general way the cultural learning experience as a whole. In a second step, the essay could then be used as a basis for discussion with the instructor, who would help the student identify her/his coping strategies and problem-solving mechanisms in the intercultural internship situation. The third step could involve presentation of three or four of the key incidents identified by student and instructor as problem-solving situations for group discussion in the classroom. This exercise should be conducted only with advanced business German students who are nearing the end of their cultural aware- ness phase. Each work group in the business German class could be assigned to discuss a different situation, without the coping mechanism This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to 258 Paulsell and problem-solving strategy of the student intern having been revealed. The work group would be expected to discuss several different possible responses to the situation based upon their cross-cultural training. Such a three-step methodology benefits the returning student intern by func- tioning as a mechanism for processing of the cultural knowledge obtained from the internship. But it also benefits those currently enrolled in the business German course by incorporating case studies into their more advanced discussion of cultural awareness. The instructor should include as many former interns as possible in classroom discussions and presentations, thereby using the interns’ experiences to help further the intercultural understanding of peers. In addition, the experience gained by returned interns could be beneficial in a second, domestic internship with companies which may be consid- ering international involvement, but which do not yet possess interna- tional expertise. It is important that the internship experience be con- ceived in stages of(1) pre-departure preparation, (2) monitored internship experience, and (3) re-entry with associated reflection and personal growth related activities. Such a cultural rationale for integrating an internship into the busi- ness German curriculum can certainly be seen as beneficial from the perspective of American business. As Kobrin points out: Managers view international expertise from both an informational and an operational perspective. Economic, social and political information is nec- essary for the analysis and forecasting underlying planning and decision- making. An understanding of how to interact with people and organizations in other countries, or how to “move around and get it done,” is required outside the United States.’ The designations informational and operational overlap significantly with what Kobrin goes on to identify as general and country-specific inter- national expertise. Specific knowledge ofa country would involve knowl- edge of the language and culture of one country, while general knowledge involves understanding of “what is different abroad and the forms those differences are likely to take.”’52 Those in charge of hiring and assigning managers to international positions will always remind us as educators that individuals involved in international business must be able to function multiculturally. Even if American businesses were to continue to assign expatriate managers at one point or another to a country for which their language and cultural background has specifically trained them (which, as we have seen, would run contrary to recent trends), the managers are not likely to remain there for more than a few years before being transferred to another assignment. Therefore, the most important component of international expertise for This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to International Business Internships 259 most businesses is what they refer to as “‘cultural empathy,’ ‘wearing the shoes of other people,’ sensitivity to differences in the ways places work and the way business is done, knowing where other people are ‘coming from,’ and understanding ‘how to live there’.”53 In other words, businesses will be more interested in our students with experience abroad who can demonstrate high degrees of cross-cultural awareness and are multiculturally competent, regardless of the specific country knowledge they may possess. Students must be able to “learn culture, rapidly and effectively.” The phrase “rapid and effective learning of culture” under- scores the business perspective in cross-cultural training endeavors quite clearly. Learning culture has always been a question of cost-effectiveness for American business. Businesses and business schools have not nec- essarily seen the value in students or managers devoting years to the study of the language and culture of specific countries. Yet, as has been discussed, many experts agree that the current level ofmulticultural train- ing of American managers is inadequate. Inman argues that companies “must be helped to understand what realistically is involved in an ade- quate program of language training and use”’54 because “most people unfamiliar with the challenges and rigors of language learning and teach- ing simply have no appreciation for the length of time and considerable effort required in order for anyone to develop even a working capability in a second language.”” We must strive to educate our colleagues in the business schools and professionals in the business community about the nature of “mul- ticultural competence.” Is it possible to “wear the shoes of other people, to know their ways of doing business, to know where they are coming from, and to understand how they live” without ever actually walking in their shoes? As language and culture educators it seems self-evident to us that multicultural competence would be extremely difficult if not impossible to attain without at some point achieving intercultural com- petence. We must strive to convince American business of the need for intimate knowledge of the language and culture of at least one specific country in the education of future international managers. Since Germany is a major world economic power and German a major business language next to English, business German courses provide a solid foundation for study of a specific country for those interested in international business. With a cultural awareness (general/informational) facet, a cultural use (country specific/operational) facet, and a cultural processing (synthes- izing) facet to our cultural component in the business German curricu- lum, our graduates will possess a degree of intercultural competence which becomes the basis for developing true multicultural competence. Strong cross-cultural awareness components in our curricula may help This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to 260 Paulsell justify more sophisticated “language” study of longer duration to business executives who have often viewed language study as unimportant. Conclusion: International Business Internships and a Liberal Education If some colleagues are unwilling to agree with a rationale for the importance of the international internship based upon meeting the need for international expertise in the halls of corporate America, then a second foundation for this rationale may seem more appealing. To quote Sharon Rubin once again: At its best, it [the internship experience] may help the student move from ethnocentrism toward cultural pluralism, an understanding of the benefits and disadvantages of his/her own and other cultures and a commitment to those aspects he/she believes in within each. If that final sequence re- minds one of the process which such developmental theorists as William Perry define for the intellectual and ethical development of college students, the similarities, I believe are not coincidental.56 Although Rubin has no “foreign” experience in mind for the internship experience, but rather a reflective, monitored experience within a sub- culture of the mainstream culture, the principles which she has enunciated apply to our discussion as well. The internship experience per se is cur- rently being reformulated and expanded to fit a “completely innovative approach to the acquisition of non-technical skills,” as E.L. Corroni-Long has put it.57 In this reformulation, the type of skills and cognitive de- velopment which experiential learning programs promote are seen as directly correlated to a liberal arts education: If one keeps in mind that at the core of the humanistic approach to edu- cation is an emphasis on “process” rather than “content” and that from John Dewey on American supporters of a liberal arts curriculum have stressed self-realization, in terms of flexibility, objectivity and individual maturity and autonomy, as the major aim of post-secondary education it is easy to see how experiential learning programs dovetail with the current movement toward re-emphasizing humanistic values in American under- graduate education.58 With respect to the integration of the cultural component into business German curricula, it is important here to emphasize once again the pre- paratory classroom activities in cultural awareness and the reflective and monitoring activities associated with extracting experiential learning from an internship placement. Corroni-Long points out: If the experiential aspect of a field experience is to bring cognitive growth, acquisition of humanistic, non-technical skills such as capacity for analytical This content downloaded from on Thu, 25 Apr 2019 06:51:29 UTC All use subject to International Business Internships 261 and critical thinking, objectivity, flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity, a dis- position for human empathy and competence in interpersonal communi- cation, then it seems essential that the student be provided the means by which the placement setting can be analyzed as a complex human system functioning both as a self-contained unit and as part of an articulated social framework. Furthermore, the students must be given a methodology as well as precise techniques with which their own placement experience can be analyzed… .59 A “marriage between theory and practice” is achieved when one lays the proper theoretical foundation from cultural anthropology and related fields in a classroom phase of instruction which precedes the experiential learning phase, according to Corroni-Long. Rubin and Corroni-Long make their arguments from the more general perspective of adding a dimension of individual growth to experiential learning situations. Yet the points are equally valid for our conceptualization of the value of the international internship experience. Such experiences do not have to be seen merely as facilitators of the needs of American business, or as ways to make our graduates more marketable. They may be seen instead as integral parts of a pedagogical strategy which has as its goal the creation of “mediating individuals.” According to Pusch: If we live in a plural rather than an assimilationist world, this [cultural mediation] becomes a critical function since cultures will not, as the old ideal hoped they would, grow together and become one-even under the leveling impact of technology. As the earth becomes increasingly crowded, the need for more extensive and sophisticated mediation of differences is apparent.60 The skills of such mediating individuals are not only valuable in the business setting, but are also extremely important to human society in general. In working toward training such individuals, we therefore contribute not only to the immediate goals of the business community, but also to the more long-range goals of our “nation at risk” in a mean- ingful way. There cannot be a more humanistic endeavor

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