Multicultural teamwork in IBS education

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In the first semester of the 2015/16 academic year, 45% of our students were Hungarians, while 55% were from abroad, from 72 countries. Multiculturalism is known for being one of the major attractions of IBS for potential students.  But it is less known perhaps, that multiculturalism is also a driving force and a source of motivation and success in teamwork for IBS students in doing their academic tasks on our Bachelor's and Master's programmes.

Writing a PR plan for a company in groups, or doing a group presentation were all opportunities for students of Marta Szabados to have a sense of this experience. Katinka Relling Bjorkavag (Norway) worked on a PR Plan for CIB Bank this semester with Loes Scharenborg (Netherlands) and Lisa Stingl (Germany).  Says Katinka:

"The major benefit of working in a team with different nationalities and personalities was that I learned how to listen and accept the differences we all have.  This group work  helped me, among others, to understand my own strengths and weaknesses in a team, which can be useful in a work situation later."

Mariem Abbasi (France) and her team, Spronkmans Menno and Eugene Bonnet won a third prize with their PR Plan written for CANON Hungary last year. Mariem commented:

"Working in a multicultural team is full of surprises. There are just so many domains where cultural differences can apply: communication, organization, teamwork… It is a great experience and open-mindedness is the key."

Barta Lilla worked with Centintas Tolga and Musa-zada Babak on her presentation in the Digital Marketing seminar on  the MSc Programme. Her thoughts and feelings are the following:

"Honestly, I always try to join multinational groups. The reason behind this is that I  like to get a wider perspective on the given task. For example students from other countries might have different habits, different advertising perspectives. Reflecting on the Digital Marketing task it was great that Babak often visited international advertising festivals, so he offered and showed us a good example we decided to work on. To sum up, a group of students from different countries, cultures has a greater knowledge together, than a group of students from one country."


Cetintas Tolga (Turkey), Marta Szabados, and Mbaze Ebok Arrey Ngondebhe (Cameroon) after the presentation

Our staff also feel very strongly about the significance of multiculturalism in higher education.  According to dr. György Gonda the multicultural variety of students has a big advantage for teachers and students alike. Obviously it is easier to teach a motivated and interested class, and it is also an advantage to receive perceptions from different cultures thereby seeing questions from different angles. As for students they will be able to work anywhere in the world without cultural shock and substantial cultural adjustment.

Professor Ildikó Polyák, our cross-cultural communication expert among other areas of knowledge referred me to Rizk (2014) for an academic interpretation of the advantage of global teamwork:

"The advantage to having people from all over the world on a team is that you may find that you have more innovation and creativity, and that you’re closer to your local markets. The disadvantage is that multinational teamwork is usually a lot less efficient than monocultural teamwork. When we’re all from the same culture, we don’t have to talk about how we work together. We have the same assumptions—we just get to work. If we’re from all over the world, and if we don’t spend time talking about how we’re going to work, we end up wasting a lot of time because we have different assumptions. Global teamwork has big rewards, but it also requires a big investment."

Rizk, Ch. (2014). Erin Meyer can make your global team work. Strategy + Business, 10 November. Available here.

Dr. Márta Szabados

BSc in Management with Marketing