The work of Bramley (1999) explains that the best education for any manager is not static learning obtained through lectures, papers, books and an assortment of course prescribed reading materials but rather it is real world experience acquired in a dynamic setting that enables an individual to learn how to apply theory to action resulting in the creation of events and experiences from which they can learn and thus adapt to their future managerial careers (Bramely, 1999: 145). In fact, lecturers such as Moratis (2006) explain that even if a person were to graduate from schools such as Harvard, Oxford or Stanford in several of their more prestigious business programs the fact remains that studies examining the managerial performance of graduates from such institutions from the 1990s till 2006 have shown that while they were well versed in knowing the various nuances of business theory and the various strategies and calculations indicated by authors and teachers the fact remains that when it came to applying their knowledge into real world situations they fell short of expectations due to the dynamic and ever changing situation overwhelming their previously static perceptions regarding appropriate managerial practices to implement in company operations (Moratis, 2006:213 – 220). It is due to this particular example that the Glo-bus business simulation which lasted from October 2011 to January 2012 gains a greater degree of importance in my eyes since not only was it fun and competitive but it showcased how real world events and situations don’t always conform to theory and academic text. This simulation with my fellow teammate helped to enhance my outlook regarding what it takes to run a successful business and how different factors interplay which managers need to take into account on a daily basis in order to create a truly effective strategy that would result in success for the company. As such, this paper will be my reflection on the various incidents and events that occurred over the course of the activity and should show the way in which I regarded the activity and how the experience changed me in subtle ways. What must be understood is that reflecting on previous actions and events helps a person to understand how far they have come in understanding the application of particular concepts and how this has changed their thought processes in particular. By doing this can be considered an effective means of measuring “growth” in terms of how well a person may perform in the future in applying lessons learned from a previous activity into a future one. In creating this reflection I will utilize both David Colb’s learning cycle theory as well as Gib’s reflective cycle in order to better understand the events as they occurred, what changes occurred to me as a result and the potential future applications of this reflection. It is expected that by the end of this reflection I will be able to understand what I truly got out of the activity and what my response will be in the future in light of participating in it.
First Critical Incident: Working In Two
For the Glo-bus exercise, we were tasked to work in groups of two based on the requirements set by the teacher. For me, this was rather strange since based on the overall outline of the experiment itself one person would be more than sufficient in completing it. My initial apprehension was justified since as a direct result of the grouping I found myself in direct conflict with my group member regarding what strategy to implement for our given task. As the weeks progressed in our exercise I could say that what developed was a conflicted relationship wherein we both fought and got along. Several studies have indicated that working teams often do have some internal conflicts and as such, it is the task of the leader or company manager to smooth over such problems in order to prevent them from happening again in the future. Unfortunately, there were only two of us so there was no “de facto” leader in the group. This lead to escalating conflicts especially in cases where our ideas simply did not mesh. It was rather fortunate that towards the end we were able to cooperate well enough and devise an effective joint strategy since for us failure was not an option for this task. What I learned from this exercise in management was that if there isn’t a mitigator of conflict in a given situation problems often do occur and this can hamper the operational capacity of any company.
Second Critical Incident Problems in Communications (Cultural Diversity)
Tovey (1997) explains that as international business initiatives continue to expand into foreign markets as a result of outsourcing or merely just attempts at penetrating new international market segments, problems arise in terms of the ability of a company to acclimatize itself with local business cultures in terms of the way in which ideas, processes and operational goals are communicated between local employees and managers located a continent away (Tovey, 1997: 19 -25). Such problems can cause variances in the way in which a company’s operational strategy is implemented resulting in not only substandard methods of production, customer service and transportation but can also include the improper means in which local managerial units implement companywide standards resulting in the creation of an off-shored operation that fails to meet the goals of the company. As such mitigating such problems is a cause for concern for most companies that attempt to expand into international locations. On a much smaller scale, such a scenario was initially observed between me and my groupmate for the Glo-bus business simulation. We were from two distinctly different cultural backgrounds which Moy (2010) indicates is the starting point for conflicts in terms of the way in which we interpret information as well as the implementation of particular strategies (Moy, 2010: 514). In fact studies such as those by Kulenkamp (2005) indicate that the local culture of a country influences the way in which a business that is established in that country operates (Kulenkamp, 2005: 44). There is no definite international standard in business culture that companies around the world adhere to, each cultural backdrop brings a whole new dynamic in which businesses view trends, opportunities and investments which unfortunately creates problems when it comes to international partnerships, joint ventures or even in cases when one company absorbs another. During our initial planning and strategy meeting, there were observable differences in the way in which we wanted to implement our operational strategy. This came in the form of contention between the of us as to whether or not we should become customer-oriented (in which case we focus on service and marketing) or competitor oriented (resulting in a strategy that focused more on reducing the cost of production as well as responding to strategies implemented by our competitors).
While both methods had a certain degree of merit the fact remained that we still couldn’t agree due to diverging views as to how we perceived particular markets operate. It cannot really be stated that either one of us was “wrong” since both views were in fact influenced by the culture in which we grew up in resulting in varying levels of “correctness”. On the other hand, it must be noted that our different backgrounds did enable us to see the activity from two distinctly unique points of view which enabled us to create a combined strategy that used the positive aspects of the operational processes that we had in mind. It was only after the activity was over that I realized the sheer difficulty in communicating ideas, concepts and strategies to someone from a distinctly different culture since I was sometimes under the assumption that they already knew what I was talking about.
Bramley, P 1999, ‘Evaluating effective management learning’, Journal Of European Industrial Training, 23, 3, p. 145, Teacher Reference Center, EBSCOhost.
Kulenkamp, 2005, ‘Intercultural Communication: Bridging the Gap’, Minnesota Fire Chief, 41, 5, p. 44, MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost.
Moratis, L 2006, ‘A dual challenge facing management education: Simulation-based learning and learning about CSR’, Journal Of Management Development, 25, 3, pp. 213-231, Teacher Reference Center, EBSCOhos.
Moy, P 2010, ‘Cosmopolitan Communications: Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World’, Political Science Quarterly, 125, 3, p. 514, MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost.
Tovey, J 1997, ‘Addressing Issues of Cultural Diversity in Business Communication’, Business Communication Quarterly, 60, 1, pp. 19-30, Teacher Reference Center, EBSCOhost.