X-Culture: Department of Management tests a new form of learning Intercultural Management

Beyond teaching international and intercultural management in the usual formats, like lectures and seminars, Prof. Eric Davoine and Prof. Dirk Morschett of the Department of Management started an experiment with a new, highly interactive and innovative form of learning this semester.

In the course “Intercultural Business Projects”, they join the international X-Culture network (http://x-culture.org/) of business professors who work together to give their students practical and hands-on experience in intercultural management.


In the course, a small group of students from Fribourg virtually collaborate with about 4’000 students from over 40 countries to work on real business projects presented by corporate partners of X-Culture. These projects are, e.g., market entries of companies or not-for profit organisations in African or Asian markets. The companies give detailed briefings on their situation and challenge, mostly in form of webinars. The students then work in international teams, that means that each student from Fribourg is in a different team, usually with 6-7 students from the USA, France, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For several months, the teams collaborate virtually, by using modern tools as Google Drive, Dropbox, Skype or Google+. In weekly stages, they develop a solution for the business challenges whereby the teams compete for the best solution and may even help the company to implement the solution. At the same time, the teams are doing regular peer evaluations and learn how to motivate their peer students around the world to work towards a common goal.

Working in virtual teams is common in today’s business world and it is necessary that we prepare our students for this. First feedbacks that we received, confirm that this is valuable to management students. For example, one student wrote: “… it gives you a really good insight on how people from other countries are working and how difficult it is to manage a team with people from different cultures and with different backgrounds.” It is another quote that shows that the project gives the students a deep insight into team work in general: “X-culture is teaching me that the most valuable member of a team is not necessarily the best performing one, but the one able to drive/help others to perform better and to achieve their potential.

The positive feedback and our own observations show that this experiment is successful and it encourages us to take this course into our regular schedule in the future.

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