Traveling Business Class
Management students see the Chinese economic surge up close
As “Management 397C” it merits a yawn. Call it “Chinese Culture and Business” and it starts to sound interesting. But check out its course description and you’ll quickly realize that this is one of the most exciting programs at the Isenberg School of Management.
The spring presentation consists of a series of seven 90-minute seminars, one a week. They provide the program’s 16 students—enrollment is strictly limited to that number—with a background in Chinese culture, the historical context for business in a socialist economy, and the rapid transition of China’s economy from one based on government-owned enterprise to one driven by privately-held businesses.
Engaging as they are, however, the seminars are preludes to the big payoff: a two-week trip to China in late May and early June, concentrating on Beijing and Shanghai. The students will tour local businesses and factories to witness firsthand the breathtaking evolution of the Chinese economy. They also see fabled cultural and historical sites and some spectacular geographical wonders.
Despite dense and diverse itineraries, serendipity ends up having its place too. “When we visited the Yao village near Guilin,” recalls Devon Long ’07G, who as an MBA student attended a 2006 tour, “I saw something that proved just how ‘flat’ the world had become. During our hike up a rice-terrace mountainside, I twice saw people in little makeshift bamboo shelters, literally in the middle of nowhere. Somehow, inside these open structures there were fully functional, hooked-up computers. It was truly amazing. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”