Gannon University Students, Professor Look At Management Styles From A Transatlantic Perspective In Germany
Posted: July 28, 2017
Bruce Kibler, Ph.D. spent more than a decade working for
telecommunications and information technology companies in Germany,
and he speaks the language fluently, So after Gannon University had
signed an agreement in with Hochschule Esslingen University of
Applied Sciences for the exchange of students and faculty, Kibler
asked, why not both?
The answer was positive and so was the experience of Kibler and
the five Gannon University students that accompanied the assistant
professor of business to the German city of Esslingen for a joint
course with 10 Esslingen students.
The three-week course was a combination of Gannon's MGMT 399
Strategic Management course and its equivalent at Esslingen, a
technical university with an enrollment of 6,000 located near
Stuttgart. And while it was a first for the Gannon students, Kibler
came well prepared; he taught the course in Esslingen to Esslingen
students last year.
"I wanted to go over there and do a test run before I brought
the American students" he said, adding that he felt it was
important to establish relationships in Germany and at Esslingen.
The course was taught in English, as many courses are at German
universities, and it was open to all students, not just business
"The Strategic Management course contrasts how each side of the
pond approaches what they perceive to be strategy," Kibler said. In
order to attract students from multiple disciplines, he kept the
subject matter approachable and not too specialized, choosing to
analyze management philosophies of corporations in three large
economic sectors: energy, agribusiness and health care. "Those are
excellent points of contrast between how we do things and how other
parts of the world do things," he said.
Groups of students from Gannon and Esslingen collaborated on
research papers and presentations to to the class. What they found,
Kibler said, was a great difference in strategic orientation
between the two cultures. "One is oriented toward making money and
the other, in a social market economy, emphasizes that people come
first because people are more important than the market and the
money that any particular individual or company makes."
Kendra Walker, a junior accounting and finance major
and president of Gannon's Student Government Association, called
the course, "one of the coolest experiences of my life. We'd
continue our classroom discussions after class and Dr. Kibler would
have to shoo us out because they'd go on so long. We were
challenged, but even more importantly, we were challenged to
explore why we felt challenged."
When asked what the most valuable lesson of the class had been,
Kibler didn't hesitate: "The intercultural exchange of ideas. The
students loved it. I asked them to create a PowerPoint presentation
about their experiences that we will use to recruit students to go
to Germany next year."
The student traffic across the Atlantic flows in both directions
as some Esslingen students spent the semester at Gannon this past
Academic Year. Kibler hopes to teach the course in Germany every
summer, and to further the dual degree program established between
Gannon and Esslingen. "I believe it can be a powerful vehicle to
recruit a new type of student," he said, "one who wants the
American and the European experience."
Walker, who is exploring graduate studies in Germany, might be
one of those students. "We had a whole classroom of people from all
over the world with whom we've made professional connections and
who we'll stay in touch with over the course of our careers. We
learned a lot, but we also made a community."