Shanghai Management Study Tour
Business students from Webster University Geneva traveled to Shanghai and Suzhou for a mid-semester study trip in October. The aim of the trip was to discover one of the most impressive regions of the Chinese economy, and to learn about the nuances of conducting business between China and the West. The one-week program was designed and led by Professor Dominique Jolly – a recognized expert on the Chinese economy, who has been traveling regularly and working in different locations in China the last twenty years, and the program was hosted by Webster University's own Shanghai campus team.
The week opened with an official welcome from the local Swiss Consul General. Students visited a broad range of companies – including a business incubator, commercial malls, an accounting firm, a digital marketing agency, a block-chain start-up, a major development bank, and several manufacturing units – allowing participants to capture various business angles, and to engage with a variety of contacts. Meetings with expatriates as well as with Chinese managers allowed our students to gain access to first-hand information and to compare perspectives. Testimonials offered by several business experts provided useful complements to the picture in important fields: fast-moving consumers goods, branding, the luxury industry, big data, and value-chain management.
Besides the more obvious 'surface-level' of cultural differences, students learned about local practices, operations, new management methods and business trends -- and about the critical questions that any Western or multinational business needs to consider when engaging with (or expanding operations into) the region. The impressive dynamic in this part of China was evident upon arrival; yet students also acquired a more sophisticated understanding of China's recent shift from manufacturing to technological innovation, from replication of Western practices to research and development. They witnessed the wellspring of new business paradigms that, while emerging locally, are quickly challenging the Western business mindset, which will need to watch, learn and adapt as China's growth continues to unfold on the world stage.
Following the study trip, Professor Jolly presented “Will the Chinese Economy Collapse?” at a Lunch-and-Learn event hosted by the MBA and MA programs at the Walker School of Business. He touched upon various aspects of the great debate about China’s ongoing success—and the challenges and risks it faces in its attempt to maintain its growth trajectory. Professor Jolly remains at the forefront of this topic, recently quoted in an article in the Geneva newspaper “Le Temps”. On a similar theme, the New York Times recently ran a front page feature article on the same subject just a fortnight after Dr. Jolly’s presentation.
Webster University Geneva will offer a graduate course on International Management (Doing Business in China) in Summer 2019, and has already anticipated another study trip to Shanghai for October 2019.