Forming International Relationships Through Inter-Campus Cooperation in the International Marketing Class: U.S. and the Philippines



Citation:

Juanita Roxas and Luz Suplico (2001) ,"Forming International Relationships Through Inter-Campus Cooperation in the International Marketing Class: U.S. and the Philippines", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Paula M. Tidwell and Thomas E. Muller, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 299-301.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 2001      Pages 299-301

FORMING INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH INTER-CAMPUS COOPERATION IN THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING CLASS: U.S. AND THE PHILIPPINES

Juanita Roxas, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, U.S.A.

Luz Suplico, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines.

BACKGROUND

A major challenge facing instructors is how to bring a taste of the business world into the classroom. One has to find creative techniques to 1) hold their attention, 2) tie the concepts in the classroom to "real world" applications, and 3) show students that they are not wasting their time in the classroom and that it will all pay off when they finally join the workforce. To this end, pedagogical techniques have been developed, e.g. cases, guest speakers, computer simulations, "real world" projects, field exercises, to enable students to imagine what the business world is like and hopefully take courses more seriously. The requirement of a term paper at the end of a course was the traditional means of accomplishing this. Over the years, conferences like the American Marketing Association Educators’ Conference, Western Marketing Educators’ Conference, etc. as well as academic journals like Journal of Marketing Education have provided avenues for sharing teaching techniques and class projects to improve student learning.

In the International Marketing classes, it is even more difficult to bring the "real world" to students. In many American universities, the traditional term project is a country notebook where a student researches information about a country and then designs a marketing strategy to sell a product in that country. This project is designed to introduce students to the concept of marketing to another environment. Some instructors have creatively designed computer simulations that try to provide a more realistic picture of doing business overseas. Algorithms are used to model the "real world" so the computer programs responds to students’ decisions with corresponding changes in the marketplace. What is missing in most of these is the presence of people on the other end to interact with.

Communicating with someone from another culture with teir own values, beliefs, priorities, etc. is difficult in the business world because trading partners have their own sense of time, priorities, schedules, etc. When one has to correspond with a firm in a foreign country as a trading partner/subsidiary/counterpart technology in the form of e-mail, faxes, and cheaper long distance rates have greatly shortened the waiting period for transmission of messages. However, technology has not found a way to get the person to answer an e-mail right away or fax a response until they are ready. The frustration of having to meet a deadline but needing crucial information from the foreign party is not easily simulated. Neither is having to take time differences into consideration as well as workdays nor having to understand cryptic responses to questions where cultural interpretations of what to say and how to say it will require several exchanges for clarification.

This paper will describe a class project in the International Exporting class conducted during the Summer Quarter of 1998 where two instructorsBone in the U.S. and the other in the PhilippinesBsought to inject the communication factor into a class project. Student groups in the U.S. taking an International Exporting class were matched with student groups at De La Salle University taking an International Marketing class. Students were required to role-play as owners/executives in an import/export trading company. The Philippine groups’ project involved a study of the market feasibility of exporting products to the U. S. American students were required to study the 1) market feasibility of exporting a U.S. product to the Philippines and 2) the market feasibility of importing what their Philippine counterparts are exporting in the U.S. marketplace. As import/export-trading counterparts, the assignment was designed to have students in matched groups help each other acquire the data needed to complete their respective assignments.

PROJECT PURPOSE

The primary purpose for this project is to simulate the cooperation between two firms who have agreed to help market the other’s products. The secondary purpose is to provide students with a sense of realism in their import/export project. This cooperation will enable them to communicate with counterparts from another culture. Students will also experience first hand the rewards and frustrations of cross-cultural communication, albeit using a common language.

THE CLASSES

California State Polytechnic University is a state university that operates on a quarter system. Summer quarter lasts 10 weeks just like the other three quarters of the year. De La Salle University in the Philippines is a private religious university that operates using a trimester system with 12 weeks. Since their school year starts in June, it seemed like the classes would be a fair match. Another difference was the nature of the classes. The U.S. class was in International Exporting while the Philippine class was in International Marketing. The Philippine class was not interested in importing because the thrust in the economy was purely for export. On the other hand, the U.S. instructor wanted to ensure that American students took the counterparts seriously. Since this was a more advanced class American students had to prepare an import report as well as an export report.

Philippine students were provided the following description of the project in the instructor’s syllabus:

"Export Sales Presentations: In lieu of the final exam, students will have export sales presentations with the US as the target market. In these presentations, they are expected to act as the company’s export merchanisers. The company should be export-oriented. The outline for the presentations is:

"1. 30-minute presentation about the company, products, pricing and costing, distribution channels, promotion, shipment, export marking, packing and labeling, export payments, etc.

2. 30-minute open forum where the panelists will act as importers. A company representative can also be invited and act as a panelist in the presentation. A minimum of two panelists will attend each presentation.

"We have arranged for you to work with US students on your Export Marketing Plan (not more than 10 pages exclusive of annexes such as your email correspondence with the US students). You will role-play as exporters to the US and the US students will roleplay as importers. Further, you can request the US students to assist you in your market research and they can request you to do the same thing. We are trying to set up a "discussion group" through the internet and the address is http://134.71.244.31/export.nsf. We are trying to set-up databases for groups so that group of students can participate. Another way is simply by email. You will be provided e-mail addresses of your US counterparts.

"The proposed outline for the Export Marketing Plan to be submitted on August 24 is as follows:

1. Background on the Export Company

Mode of Entry in Exporting, Export Products and Export Markets, Distribution Channels, Cost and Sale Price of Products, Export Marks and Labels, Payment Terms, Estimated Shipping Costs, Loadability, Packing, etc.

2. SWOT Analysis on Company and Export Products

3. The US as the Target Market

Information like people, capital, currency, trade regulations related to export/import of the company’s products, market access, market size (expected sales in 5 years), competition, price structure of competitors, etc."

Figure 1 shows handout containing a description of the project that was provided to the American students. Since the Philippine class started three weeks ahead of the U.S. class, groups were formed and products chosen by that class. By the time classes started in the U.S., the American instructor was already armed with the Philippine products to be imported (into the U.S.) as well as lists of the Philippine groups with each student’s e-mail address. American students formed groups and chose their counterparts according to which product they wanted to research as imports. Since the American students were either International Business or Marketing Management majors, they were encouraged to use the project as an opportunity to be introduced to potential contacts in the Philippines that could be exploited in the future.

FIGURE 1

INTERNATIONAL EXPORTING

Because there was a 15-hour time difference between the Philippines and California, video and audio conferencing were ruled out. Communication facilities were set up through threaded discussion groups using Lotus notes in a server in the U.S., which could be accessed through a browser. Each group had a site. There were a total of seven groups. Students were also provided the option of e-mailing each other. The telephone and fax incurred long charges. Thus, students who opted to use these paid the charges themselves. Figure 2 shows the products chosen. They are lined up to show each group’s products, i.e. U.S. Group 1 chose to export the Apple Computer and import Philippine Group1’s product of Carageenan.

FIGURE 2

PRODUCTS EXPORTED

OUTCOME OF THE PROJECT

Overall, this was an interesting experience. From the evaluation of the project at the end of the quarter, students tended to have fair to positive experiences. Having to communicate with someone from another country was a novel experience for both sets of students. The key issue was timing. As expected, students were frustrated at the delays in response from their counterparts. In order to pace students’ progress through the project, interim assignments were assigned periodically. Coordinating the due dates of the interim assignments between the two classes was crucial so that they each had the same sense of urgency.

Informal communication was strongly encouraged. Luckily, there was no language barrier because the medium of instruction in the Philippines is English. However, students ran into idiomatic expressions at times and required clarification. Contrary to expectations, students tended not to use the threaded discussion sites and instead preferred private e-mail. Instructors could not monitor discussions and not all students engaged in communication with the foreign counterparts. For most of the groups, one person became the designated spokesperson and the same phenomenon happened in the Philippines, where one person spoke for the group.

The time difference became more of a stumbling block considering that the U.S. university shut down on Fridays that summer and lab hours on weekends were shortened. Thus, students who did not have access to personal computers with Internet capability at home or work had to wait until labs opened to respond. Both classes complained of slow responses from counterparts. As expected, some groups were better at it than others. A few stayed up late at night to engage in chatting through chat groups.

For students majoring in International Business as well as Marketing Management with particular emphasis in International Marketing, this project provided a taste of trying to cooperate with people from another country/culture. Theories and descriptions of business situations are truly different from actually trying to deal with real people. Students in the Philippines were able to access information on market segmentation in the U.S., product/industry specific competitive situations, and market share for their products. This information may be available on the Internet but American students have been trained to search for them in all their classes and therefore had better access to them. In at least one instance, a group faxed 23 pages from a library resource to their counterparts in the Philippines. Groups in the U.S. got access to specific product/market information about the Philippines. One crucial bit of information they obtained was income distribution in the country as well as the capital area. This was important for consumer package products. Another example was meat consumption in the Philippines broken down according to "canned" or "uncanned" for the group exporting hot dogs and corned beef. This information was also not easily found in the U.S. Students had the opportunity to discuss their proposed project with their counterparts at the start. For example, one group wanted to export the drug Viagra. Their counterparts informed them that there was a ban on large quantity importation in the country and the group had to change their product.

The global marketplace is difficult enough to navigate. Hopefully, projects like these can open doors for students and expand their exposure to the rest of the world. American students need to be forced to pay closer attention to what is going on outside the U.S. and the more contact they have with peers from other cultures, the more flexible and tolerant they will be as business people.

----------------------------------------

Authors

Juanita Roxas, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, U.S.A.
Luz Suplico, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines.



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 2001



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