Steven Rosen - The International Academic Forum

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Steven Rosen - The International Academic Forum

The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, JapanRE-VISIONING THE TEACHING OF BUSINESS ENGLISH BASED ON THEEVOLVING MBA CORE CURRICULUMBy Steven L. Rosen, PhDAssociate ProfessorFaculty of Human Science and CultureDepartment of Intercultural StudiesThe Prefectural University of HiroshimaIntroductionWhat does the student of English need to know in order to communicate effectively in the highlycompetitive environment of the global marketplace? We now live in an era when the globaleconomy is undergoing profound transformations due to a collapse in credit markets--- with newgovernment regulations, new sources of capital and labor, new customer bases, and new sourcesof financing. Though it is no doubt true that the current global economic crisis was to somedegree caused by people with MBA’s, (Reeves & Knell 2009, p.11) this in no way undermines thecontention here that the MBA conceptual map and attendant language is a necessary condition fornavigating through the ever-shifting landscape of the global economic environment. Despitecertain limitations, the MBA core curriculum continues to be the touchstone for businesseducation, since it specifically focuses on providing the essential skills and knowledge necessaryfor executives to compete in an increasingly complex and ever-changing global market place.Within the field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), there is agrowing emphasis on such area as English for Academic Purposes (EAP), English for SpecialPurposes (ESP), and Content Based Teaching (Dudley-Evans 1998, p.3). The theoretical andempirical work being done in these fields dovetails nicely with the contention being put forthhere- that the MBA curriculum is a useful and effective model or paradigm for designing aBusiness English corpus. This proposal falls within the field of Content Based Teaching, and issupported by the set of theories and teaching methodologies advocated within this field. It is alsosupported by the second language acquisition theory of Stephen Krashen known as the NaturalApproach. The basic assumption here is quite simple (though the theories are complex)- that346


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, Japanthere are subjects which don’t fall neatly into one or the other. Nevertheless, below is a briefdescription of the MBA core curriculum from the point of view of strategic and functional subjectareas.I. StrategyMarket entryA key decision facing corporations is whether to enter a given market. Barriers to entry must beconsidered in this area of study; simply put, barriers to entry refers to how easy/hard is it to entera new market.Once this analysis is completed, or revised, the corporate strategist tries to analyze how to gain acompetitive advantage; how to achieve superior market performance. Among other techniques,this can be done via pricing/cost control (Wal-Mart), distribution (Starbucks), marketing (Geico,Nike, Gatorade); product quality (Toyota); or innovation (Apple, Merck). Some of these topicsare explored in detail, below.Market ExitWhen a company feels it can no longer effectively compete in a market, it can choose to exit thismarket. For example, IBM no longer manufacturers PC’s, having sold this business to Lenovoin China when they realized they could no longer be profitable in this market.Mergers, Acquisitions and DiversificationMergers and acquisitions (M&A) is a strategy to enter new markets quickly. If the barriers toentry are high but the company wants to enter a market, it can buy a company already doingbusiness in that market. Funding is generated by buying a company that has strong cash flow,meaning it generates positive, reliable profits to help pay off the acquisition price.Corporate financeInvestment of capital enables a firm to generate positive cash flows by investing new products,plants, marketing campaigns, and information technology, thereby adding value to the company.One of the key questions asked by executives doing corporate investment is whether theinvestment of capital in the present will yield returns in the future given the uncertainties in themarkets. Mathematical models are used to project turn on investment, adjusted for the various351


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, JapanMarketing promotion also attempts to create the perception of customer value. The outcome ofgood promotion is sometimes referred to as brand equity- “Coca-Cola is one of the most famous.L.L. Bean, and Coach Apparel are other examples.Another topic taught within marketing classes is pricing. This area is basicallymicroeconomics for business managers. Its methods help gain a better understanding of howprices are set in markets, and how to price your own products.Marketing also involves targeting and market segmentation:1. Indentifying target markets: to whom do I sell?2. Identifying products for that market: which products do I sell to which customers? (Lutz 2005,86)Information technologyThere are virtually no companies that do not rely on Information Technology (IT) for runningtheir business. There is customer-facing IT (automatic teller machines, web pages, airlineticketing kiosks), and back office IT (payroll systems, supply chain management systems, roboticmanufacturing equipment). MBA programs teach how to evaluate emerging IT, and manageexisting IT.Organizational/LeadershipThe human management aspects of business operations are taught in every MBA program. Theworld of business is often, mistakenly characterized by specialization “in core functional areassuch as finance, marketing, and operations management.” (McShane 2005: 227), This isunfortunate because many of the most successful businesses owe their success to leadership andexcellent organizational systems. The emphasis on communication as a leadership tool can not beoverstated. Good leaders communicate through various channels, and stay on messageconsistently to their staffs and their customers. Business schools around the world are recognizingthe importance of leadership, and emphasizing this qualitative area of study more and more intheir curriculums.Human resource managementHuman resource management tends to focus on tactics such as payroll administration, benefitsmanagement, on-boarding (bringing on new staff), training, and coaching.Business and governmentBusinesses have to interact with government on multiple levels, and MBA programs address these.354


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, JapanThere are regulations to be followed, tax policies to follow, and proper techniques for influencingpolicy (lobbying). Further, governments offer tax incentives for certain activities, such ascrop-growing and oil-exploration, and these must be understood.International businessAlmost any company of scale operates globally, and MBA programs teach how to do so, coveringareas such as currency management strategies; respect for cultural differences; seeking low-costcountries for various aspects of the total operating model (i.e. call centers and IT work in India;assembly in China; raw materials sourcing from South America).The Evolving MBA CurriculumIt is important to note that the modern MBA curriculum is undergoing an evolutionary process,mainly because of the pressures and challenges of the challenges which business persons arefacing in the modern global economy. There is a much greater emphasis on global concerns, notonly in terms of business competitiveness, but a move away from a strictly narrow focus onimmediate short-term profit maximization. (Gorman 2011, 389) It is becoming more holistic, i.e.,it is much more comprehensive from a global point of view. This is a view which realizes thatstakeholder profit is more fundamental than shareholder profit, and that such non-quantitativesubjects such as “Global Leadership,” “Entrepreneurship,” or “Sustainable Development” are notless essential for producing capable business executives. 2 These curriculum changes couldrepresent a major shift in the orientation of business schools, reflecting the tectonic shifts whichare occurring in the global economy.ConclusionThe paper critiques the current range of materials generally available for the teaching of BusinessEnglish, and suggests using the MBA curriculum as a model and recommends the MBA casemethod as the prime approach of teaching Business English. Support for this approach comesfrom a number of theories such as in TESOL (Content-Based Instruction) and Second LanguageAcquisition Theory (Krashen’s Natural Approach). This paper has also tried to provide an outlineof the essential features of the MBA curriculum which can be used as a guide for instructorsengaged in Business English curriculum design. What this paper has not done, but will benecessary in future papers, is to specify some concrete classroom methods which can help betteractualize the MBA concepts and case method in the EFL classroom. In the meantime, it is hopedthat individual instructors will exercise their intuition, imagination and expertise to develop their2 For example at ALTIS, the Postgraduate School Business & Society of the Università Cattolica delSacro Cuore of Milan355


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, Japanown methodologies which will be geared to 1) the language level of the learner, and 2) thespecific business contexts in which they will need to operate.Though the MBA curriculum is, to some degree, in a state of evolutionary flux (Holland 2009),nevertheless, there still remains, in all business schools, the traditional core curriculum whichprovides the foundational knowledge for operating in the domestic and global markets. Evenhotshot entrepreneurs, though often not MBA trained, end up employing MBA trained specialistsin finance, marketing, and operations in order to actualize their business visions.(Entrepreneurship 2009) The point of so-called English for Special Purposes (ESP), is to developthe requisite skills to operate in certain select areas. In the case of Business English, that area isthe global marketplace. Even if it is the case that the student has no intention of becoming anentrepreneur or a business executive, they will nevertheless need a working knowledge of thelanguage and concepts which form the basis for strategic business communication in the globaleconomy.BIBLIOGRPAHYDudly-Evens, T. and St. John, M. 1998, Developments in English for Special Purposes: AMulti-Disciplinary Approach. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.Dueñas, M. 2004, “The What’s, Whys, Hows and Whos of Content-Based Instruction inSecond/Foreign Language Education”. International Journal of English Studies. IJES, vol.4 (1)pp.73-96.Dueñas, M. 2004, “A Description of Prototype Models for Content-Based Langauge Instruction inHigher Education”. BELLS: Barcelona english language and literature studies no. 12. (onlinepdf) Entrepreneurship 2009, National Business Education Website http//www.nbea.org/curfbes.htmlBeckett, G. and Gonzalez, V. 2004 Content-Based ESL Writing Curriculum: A LanguageSocialization Model. NABE Journal of Research and Practice 2:1, pp. 161-175.Gorman, T. 2011, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to MBA Basics, Alpha Books, NY.Harvard Business School, Viewed 9 October 2011,Holland, K. 2009, “Is it Time to Retrain B-Schools?”, The New York Times, 15Aug.Hsu, W. 2008, Content-Based Instruction: Task-Based Learning & Business Case Study: A 3-in-1Pedagogical Framework for English For Business Purposes. VDM Verlag: Saarbruken,Germany.Krashen, S. and Tarrell, T. 1983, The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom.Pergamon Press, Oxford.356


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, JapanLuka, I 2011, “Development of Student’s English for Special Purposes Competence in TourismStudies at Tertiary Level”, Lutz, R. and Weitz, B. 2005, “Strategic Marketing—Delivering Customer Value”, in P. Navarro,What the Best MBA’s Know. (pp.87-118).McShane, S. and Glinow, M. 2005, “Organizational Behavior—the Power of People andLeadership. In Peter Navarro”, What the Best MBA’s Know (pp.227-260)Mohan, B. 1986. Language and Content. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.Navarro, P. (ed.), What the Best MBA’s Know: How to Apply the Greatest Ideas Taught in theBest Business Schools. McGraw-Hill, NY.Reeves, R. and Knell, J. 2008, The 80 Minute MBA. Lewis Media Centre, London.Silbiger, S. 1999, The Ten Day MBA, Quill, William Morris, NY.Tang, G. 1994. “Teacher Collaboration in Integrating Language and Content”. TESL CanadaJournal Vol. 11, Issue 2.Williams, C. 2010. “Chinese Literacy-Learning Strategy Impact on English ReadingDevelopment: A Case Study of Taiwanese Learners of English”, The Asian EFL TeachingJournal, vol. 41 January pp. 1-49.357

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