17.2 million respondents all talking at once

Dscn2290 Interviewing 17.2 million people takes time, patience and plenty of pens and paper.  But now I can put my feet up and call the first week a job well done.  I may have missed a couple of people, but I am pretty sure I heard from everyone at least by horn. (Next to a table of drunken Australians, this is the noisest place on earth.) 

Naturally, I am now thoroughly smitten by Shanghai.  If I can persuade Pam, I’d would like to come back and live.  She said she’d think about it.  And she really will. 

Certainly, I could do what I am doing now, consulting.  But I notice that American business schools are setting up shop here, and that would be an interesting option.

This would give me a trojan horse with which to get cultural literacy into the b-school curriculum.  If I was teaching at a Chinese b-school, or an American b-school in China, I could make a strong case for courses that taught American culture to Chinese students and Chinese culture to American culture.  Once we are talking cross-culture, suddenly there’s a license to do what the b-school should have done in any case.

The best model is something like this:

1) teach a class with both Chinese and American students enrolled

2) teach the first half of the class in the US

3) teach the second half of the class in China

4) in the first half of the class, teach American culture and consumer behavior.  Putatively, this is for the Chinese students, but in fact this is also an opportunity to teach American culture to American students. 

5) in the manner of the case study method, engage the American students to help teach the Chinese students American culture, in the process giving the American students a reason for being in a classroom that teaches something the b-school community believes they already know. 

6) in the second half of the class, teach Chnese clture and consumer behavior.  Putatively, this is for American students, but in fact it is also an opportunity to teach Chinese culture to Chinese students

7) in the manner of the case study method, engage the Chinese students to help teach the American students Chinese culture, in the process giving the Chinese students a reason for being in a classrom that teaches something the b-school community believes they already know.

I think this could be interesting.  The "cross culture" mandate is a useful license, and at this rate it is the only way the b-school community is going to take culture seriously as a educational responsibility.  (This despite the fact that business now turns increasingly on innovation and dynamism.  Innovation is almost always cultural in origin and it is always cultural in effect.  Dynamism, ditto.)

So it’s one of the paradoxes.  The only way to fix  the American business school curriculum is to move it to Shanghai.  Got it.

4 thoughts on “17.2 million respondents all talking at once”

  1. Well now, that’s a hell of an idea! You Canadians really are a sneaky lot! All smiles and nods, meanwhile conspiring to take the b-school flag through surreptitious means. I like it!

    Only question: anyplace Pam’ll be able to get good sausage and peppers in Shanghai? Chicken, I know they got.

  2. Interesting ideas, Grant, as always. Reminds me of a consulting project I did in the mid 90s for a US-based phone company which won a major contract to operate a telecoms network in China. After initially agreeing to the contract, the top management then calculated that if their business plan growth projections were correct, the Chinese subsidiary would dwarf the US home operations after about 15 years. This would mean they’d really be a Chinese phone company with some operations in the US, rather than the reverse. The main board directors realized they did not have the deep cultural understanding to be a Chinese phone company, took fright and withdrew from the contract.

  3. Great idea. I think it’s vital to build strong ties between China and the US, a kind of future proof against rifts as China grows stronger.

    Link our businessmen, and hopefully our culture and people will start to mesh similar to the dynamic between Japan and the US.

    (Note: When I say US I mean Canada too. Because, as Jon Stewart says, “I’ve been to Canada, and I’ve always gotten the impression that I could take the country over in about two days.”)

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