BS in International Business - New Undergraduate Major for Fall 2008

BS in International Business - New Undergraduate Major for Fall 2008

In the fall of 2008, the School of Management at NJIT will offer a new bachelor degree in International Business. In the below interview, Associate Professor Annaleena Parhankangas, who teaches at the School of Management, discusses the International Business degree.

Parkankangas teaches International Enterprise Development at NJIT.  In the past, she has taught in Finland and Sweden, as well as at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Wharton School of Business. She specializes in technology, innovation management and international business. She studies how new technology-based companies affect the overall development of technology.

What is the focus of the new degree program in International Business?

Essential to the graduates of this program are the flexible attitudes, innovative skills and wide vision that will be needed to work within or to create businesses involved in international economic exchange. The notion of non-national business is an ideal that requires participants to tolerate traditional cultural, social and human characteristics that define our lives, but then requires a high degree of tolerance of differences and the ability to rise above needing to emphasize one definition of life and culture over others. The International Business program will emphasize the multi-cultural interdependencies that exist between peoples, but whose potentials are seldom realized due to an exaggerated emphasis on the Darwinian advantage of one definition of life over others. Most international business programs in the United States educate students to become missionaries of a U.S. model of business to the world. Due to the multicultural experiences of our renowned faculty, all of whom have international experience, our students will be encouraged to build on their intrinsic international differences. The U.S. model, while remaining quite robust, will be presented as only one of many available models for the diverse needs of the 21st Century.

What countries and what business models will students study?

The philosophy behind the program is to resist concentrating on a single country or region to the exclusion of all others. The study of business ideas and practices in Asia, Europe, South America, America and Russia will all be important. The differences between business cultures provide an essential resource for students striving to develop their abilities to select the best approach given certain conditions. Students who learn to diligently study and understand alternative international business models, and the cultures that support them, will be great assets to organizations that must continually reorganize themselves to meet the ambiguities of change.     

Will students have the chance to study aboard?

Student can take up to 12 credits of classes abroad, at a variety of foreign locations. Traveling and living abroad offers students an opportunity to learn by experience and develop their cross-cultural skills. Emphasis will be on experiential learning combined with the traditional forms of class-focused education. It is one thing to study business practices in other countries from reading a text book; but it is a life-changing experience to be immersed in actual business operations in other countries. Students who study abroad will learn how companies in those countries do business, which will help them to develop a cosmopolitan perspective that will shape them, and provide important resources for their life’s work.  

What kind of student is this program geared to?

The International Business degree is for students interested in learning about culturally-diverse business practices. It attracts students who are intrigued by the growing importance of international business models and how they can differ in different corners of the world. It’s for students who have noticed that they never really understood their native language until they acquired knowledge of another. Building on this awareness, students will then discover that people don’t really know one business model until they can begin to appreciate another business model; especially if they get to see it operating in another country. The program is for diverse, creative students who have one thing in common: the desire to be leaders of a different kind of world that is doing different things. It is for those who have the will to become the leaders in redefining and reshaping the business of tomorrow. 

Is this a degree for students who want to work aboard? Or work for a multinational firm?

The program prepares students for both kinds of work. A major in international business is a passport to careers in multinational corporations operating in the United States and abroad. Graduates of it are prepared to embrace a wide range of careers in all industries and any type of organization, including businesses, not-for-profits and governmental organizations.

Will students focus only on business or on politics and culture as well?

Almost by definition, students will need to become aware of the importance of the socio-political dimension of business operations. How culture shapes business and defines success is a very important subject in the program. The program includes courses in international trade, multinational enterprise development, foreign direct investment, international financial institutions, barriers to international trade, accounting and taxation, cross-cultural appreciation, alliance formation, and environmental concerns. Such classes will help students discover cultural differences. To accomplish this, students will be exposed to a diverse array of ideas, models, methods and practices of business.

How much of the program will involve globalization and how countries compete globally?

This program begins with an assumption that internationalization -- not globalization -- is critical to the future well being of living systems.  So far, the internationalization of trade has been a significant advantage for those countries and peoples participating in it, while reducing the potentials for conflict. This program builds on those successes, but avoids the tendency to exaggerate the competitive advantage potentials of one culture over another. It will be more closely aligned with the exciting experiments now occurring at the edge of companies and countries that redefine economic exchange to better suit the conditions of an interdependent world. Ikea provides a clear example of how the program defines a successful international business. It is successful by providing a “Swedish” set of values in the products it takes from and offers back to the world, but distributes them in unusual ways that meet the diverse aspirations of its international customers.

What kind of jobs will students who earn get after they graduate from the School of Management?

Graduates will find careers that involve risk making, responsible action and working to improve business and cultural contexts for others as they arrive at their own definition of success. Graduates will aspire to leadership roles in current organizations, or lead in the establishment of new enterprises that can respond to future human needs. The following fields have demonstrated significant needs for graduates in international business:

  • Firms involved in production, logistics, import-export trading, and other aspects of material use and movement.
  • Service firms involved in shipping, banking, insurance, finance, consulting, market research, legal issues, transport, recreation, hotels and travel.
  • Government agencies such as the foreign commercial service, consular staff, the Export-Import Bank and state and federal commerce departments.
  • International not-for-profit and NGO organizations such as the World Bank, IMF, the United Nations UNESCO, and the Red Cross.

Many firms in the New York metropolitan region are now developing their international activities. While there is a great deal of uncertainty as to which models and means are best for them to aid internationalization, it is clear that they must and will move in this direction. Our program will prepare a special cadre of employees for these firms.

Bachelor of Science in International Business (950 KB, pdf)

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)