Day 3: Cross Cultural Communication

“Knowing cultural differences is vital to any successful international business relationship,” stated Bertrand Agostini, professor at ICN, who led us through a workshop on cross cultural communication on our third day in Nancy. This workshop included a great background on the differences in the government, culture, and history of the United States and France. With over 66 million people, and the world’s sixth largest economy, France is a major player in Europe, and particularly the European Union.  This class helped us to comprehend how the French see situations, and why they think and act in certain ways. Bertrand highlighted the importance of knowing a people’s culture to fully understand how to approach a business relationship with them. Heading into the future, each one of us will be prepared to facilitate a business relationship with most French companies and enhance the opportunities for economic gain, environmental protection, and social enhancements on a global level.


ICN Business School


The main city square in Nancy, where ICN Business School is located.   

Our courses at ICN Business School in Nancy brought a cross-cultural dimension to the material we have been studying so far. We had three lectures and a case study while we were at the school. The topics we discussed were management control for CSR, differences in ethics between the USA and France and cross-cultural communication.  Each topic was tied back to sustainability and the differences between how each culture views the role and importance of it for business. For example, in France, companies that are not publically traded (and have sales or assets of more 100 million Euros) are expected by law to communicate social and environmental results, although there is no penalty for failing to report.  It was interesting to learn about how sustainability is viewed around the world and what cultural differences impact these perceptions. Each country is influenced by past events that, at the surface, may not appear to relate directly to sustainability. For example, Americans are more willing to take risks than the French due to the colonial mindset of our founders.  Also, Americans tend to be action oriented whereas the French tend to spend more time discussing than doing.


Caitlin discusses how ethics and sustainability are connected during class at ICN Business School.

Visit to European Parliament


We had the amazing opportunity to spend a morning at the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, France. We were lucky enough to visit when 16-17 year old students from all of the Europe Union countries were there, and we were able to sit in on part of their session. Students had the chance to ask EU official’s questions about current events affecting their countries. The high school students were especially curious about the situation in the Ukraine, how the EU plans to increase participation in elections and if the EU plans to develop as a military power as well as an economic superpower.  When one student asked about what the EU was going to do help Greece, a panel member listed all the ways that the EU had already helped and suggested that Greece was to blame for their economic crisis and had challenges to address on their own.


Outside the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.


Inside the European Union Parliament chamber.

Conquering Fears in Costa Rica

By Katherine Summers


For 23 years I have been afraid of heights. When we were in La Fortuna we were given the opportunity to either go on a canopy walk or go ziplining. I decided that if I was going to face my fears I should go all out.

As we were strapped into our gear I was having second thoughts but told myself I would probably only be in the Costa Rican rainforest once so I had to do it! It was the most amazing experience of my life! I am so proud of myself for facing my fears, and thankful to be in an MBA program that allows these opportunities!

Learning to “Think Big” with Leo Burnett

With a communications background, I was in my element during our visit to Leo Burnett Costa Rica. Over the weekend, the agency had won various awards, including “Agency of the Year” and “Best Work in Show”! The following video highlights their campaign that won the “Best Work in Show”:

While I am not from Costa Rica this video touched my core – congratulations Leo Burnett on an excellent campaign with humankind at its core!

Now you are asking what is this humankind philosophy? “Humankind is not about advertising or brand propositions or selling products.  It’s about people and purpose.   It’s an approach to marketing that serves true human needs.  Everything that LB does for brands is designed with human purpose in mind.  A brand without a purpose is one that will never be understand or embraced by people.  A brand with purpose can be a true agent of change and transform the way people think, feel or act.  A brand with a true HumanKind purpose can change the world.  LB’s dream is to be the best creator of ideas that truly move people”.

Our visit allowed us a glimpse to see how Leo Burnett is able to develop communications with the humankind philosophy at the core.  The integrated research, design, and implementation process allows Leo Burnett to help their clients connect with customers, and foster a two-way conversation.  This visit came at a perfect time since we just finished a marketing class with Dr. Luchs last week!


Attracting Foreign Investment to Costa Rica


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The Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE) kicked off our business visits during our stay in San Jose, Costa Rica. CINDE, founded in 1982, has been around for 32 years. CINDE operates as an NGO to attract foreign investment to Costa Rica. The visit to CINDE revolved around a presentation that was open to discussion and questions allowing a comprehensive understanding of the business as well as Costa Rica’s position in the global economy. 

The 40-employees are effectively promoting Costa Rica abroad by securing foreign investment from over 100 businesses. The value proposition that Costa Rica offers include a proven track record, qualified work force, strategic location, excellent business climate, quality infrastructure, and quality of life. Over the years Costa Rica has move from goods such as bananas or coffee to value added services such as services, advanced manufacturing or life sciences. 

A diverse number of businesses have been attracted to the service sector including, UPS Supply Chain, Amazon, IBM, LL Bean, Hewlett Packard, Curtiss Wright, Proctor and Gamble, Bayer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and many more. Advanced manufacturing businesses include  Eaton and Panasonic, while life sciences include St. Jude Medical, Baxter Healthcare and Hospira. 

CINDE arranged for our group to visit Samtec, a company headquartered in United States, with manufacturing in Costa Rica.  The Costa Rican facility has a noticeable organizational subculture, and it was noticeable that the employees were happy to come to work during the shift change.  It is excellent to see that the CINDE is able to attract these advanced manufacturing jobs to Costa Rica.

Eating like a German

By Matt Lepri

During the week-long tour of the western Germany with the Duquesne SMBA program, I had the opportunity to try a variety of traditional German food. I attempted to document most of the delicious local cuisines of Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, and Cologne so that the pictures of food and drink would help me remember my great experience.

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Bayer AG

Personally, our visit to Bayer at the CHEMPARK in Leverkusen was one of the trip highlights. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to intern at Bayer’s US headquarter in Pittsburgh; therefore, visiting the headquarters in Germany is something that I will never forget. 

Our visit to Bayer included a tour of BayKomm and the CHEMPARK. BayKomm, also known as the Bayer Communication Center, is home to both a student laboratory as well as a exhibition rooms.  A guide took us through various exhibition rooms to allow our group to learn more about the three business units: Bayer CropScience, Bayer MaterialScience, and Bayer HealthCare.  CHEMPARK, an industrial park, is home to Bayer and a variety of other companies. CHEMPARK brings people andsectors together to exchange expertise, to look to the future or simply to do business.
The afternoon closed with a wonderful lunch at “The Casino”, Bayer’s on-campus restaurant. 

Summer Study Trip – Central America

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 11.09.39 PMSince our cohort began the MBA Sustainability program in August, we have been chomping at the bit to find out where we would be going on our summer study trip. Last week, Diane Ramos announced to the cohort that we would be traveling to Central America.  Specifically, we will be heading to Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Our schedule is jam-packed with a variety of learning experiences in both locations; however, in Costa Rica we will be focusing on the following projects:

In Guatemala we will be taking part in field-work on the potable water challenge in Guatemala with EcoFiltro & USAID.  Of course, our trips involve a variety of other learning experiences, with time to engage in the cultures of the countries.  Our cohort is extremely excited to tackle the live learning in Central America!