The complex mosaic of languages and cultures that makes up today’s workplace requires employers to rethink their recruiting policies deeply. While relevant experience and technical know-how remain essential attributes to look for in candidates, they are becoming more and more focused on employees able to bring a well-rounded set of intercultural skills.
As the modern workplace becomes increasingly globalised and competitive, ESCP Business School accepts the challenge by offering its graduates the means to break down any cultural barrier in communication with colleagues, business partners, and customers. However, the aim is not only to impress future employees with a perfect international curriculum but also to prepare young professionals to better understand their co-workers, adapt smoothly to new work environments, and prevent cultural shock. While, at the same time, enhancing their cultural awareness.
The ESCP Bachelor in Management (BSc) is a perfect example of a cross-culturally oriented programme. It offers the opportunity to study for three years in three different countries with students from all over the world and brings Intercultural Skills to the classroom with a dedicated module.
Intercultural Skills module.
A constructive bridging between cultures starts
“Our bachelor of science provides a solid quantitative preparation. Nevertheless, we propose several ‘humanistic’ content in the curriculum, as we think they are necessary to future managers to address the complexity of the business world comprehensively,” tells us Chiara Succi, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at ESCP, and Academic Director of the Bachelor in Management (BSc) for the Turin Campus. “All courses have an international perspective and see diversity as an asset at different levels. Serving this purpose, in the second year, we offer the module entitled Intercultural Skills.”
Although the Intercultural Skills module is expressly designed to prepare students for a fruitful meeting of cultures – in the workplace and beyond – how does it occur in practical terms?
“The course is divided into two parts,” says professor Succi. “In the first part, students become familiar with the definitions of the main concepts (i.e., culture, identity, multicultural, pluricultural,…) and study cultural dimensions to better understand and compare different countries and approaches to business around the world.”
In the second part of the course, called ‘culture in action‘, students are invited to apply the studied frameworks to real cases and decline them in different contexts. “For example, we have a role play called ‘cultural clash‘, in which students have to simulate a possible cultural conflict and suggest alternative tactics to avoid it,” explains professor Succi.
Bachelor in Management (BSc).
A curriculum designed for students aspiring to top international careers
One of the BSc curriculum’s fundamental objectives is to develop a ‘humanistic’ sensitivity to complement technical studies. In particular, the programme underlines the huge diversity currently characterizing the corporate world. A diversity, which with its many faces and declinations, reflects in a variety of cultures, personalities, generations, and needs.
Companies, now more than ever, are no longer just interested in employees’ ability to speak another language, but in their capability to demonstrate respect for others, understand people from different backgrounds, build trust and cope with cultural differences.
“It is fundamental for our students to understand that cultural diversity is not related to a specific country or society, but it belongs to every individual. In each ‘interpersonal encounter‘, they will need to invest time and energies to build a positive connection,” continues professor Succi.
Understanding others means to interpret the reality around you
To be able to listen and understand others is paramount to acknowledge the environment in which the cultural encounters occur. “We ask our students to carry on a journal to reflect on themselves and analyze their group work activities in-depth. As an example, we asked them to find in their city a cultural event or phenomenon (e.g., Brazilian carnival, coffee, visit a synagogue, a meal at a Chinese restaurant, …) to work on, applying the cultural dimensions studied in the first part of the course,” tells us professor Succi.
Each year, the students’ response to the module is different, as their perception gets affected by the actuality and the events taking place around them. “Nationalism, racism, and stereotypes had been extremely interesting to students last year,” says professor Succi, underlining how the Intercultural Skills module is in constant metamorphosis, like the world it tries to interpret.
Although we have well understood that constructive bridging between cultures is fundamental for transforming our societies and economies, what is the students’ reaction to this module? “In general, our Bachelor students truly appreciate the possibility to reflect on the international experience they are having at ESCP and to assess, somehow, their ‘cultural intelligence‘ level. We, on the other hand, are proud to train future leaders capable of putting people at the center of their choices,” concludes professor Succi.
Globalization is impacting all career paths in all sectors. Acquiring intercultural frameworks is essential to simplify the business environment’s complexity, develop transversal communication strategies, build trust, and successful relationships.
Learn more about the Bachelor in Management (BSc) and discover the path towards your cross-cultural journey at ESCP Business School.