By Karla Bell, University of Michigan

Karla Bell

My time in the Cross-Cultural Business class — part of the Business & Culture program run by the William Davidson Institute — was one of the most beneficial I have been able to take at the University of Michigan. Many classes within the Ross School of Business focus on how to make a profit or frameworks on how to go about solving a problem within the business world. The Cross-Cultural Business class applies these frameworks in a new lens of international business. 

The main thing that I learned within the Cross-Cultural Business class is the idea that culture still matters. In this day and age we often look at the idea of globalization and it seems that it makes sense with more effective modes of transportation and more connected economies. Many companies see international expansion as the best way to grow profits, but this is not exactly the case. It is important to consider the culture of the people where a company is trying to expand in a multitude of different aspects. This class will teach you how to think in this lens. I have a whole new set of tools to evaluate cultures and business; including the Hofstede, CAGE, and STEEPLE frameworks.

The Cross-Cultural Business classgives you the chance to work with students from all over the world and gain the understanding of how to work with international teams. Our class partners were students from schools in three countries in the MENA region. It truly teaches you to work across cultures. Our final assignment aimed for teams from each of the partner countries working to work together to complete a consulting project on whether or not a company should expand to an international market. This project enabled us to use all the tools that we have learned during the semester and apply them to a realistic case. 

Because of this course, I have completely changed my thought process and expanded my understanding of cultural issues. With the outbreak of Covid, I am now better able to assess how the pandemic affects different countries and how international business is affected compared to domestic commerce. I also believe this class will have a great impact on how I perform in other courses going forward.