VIS as part of Strategic Management
Strategic Execution is a mandatory course (5 ECTS) within the Bachelor Finance & Control and the Bachelor Finance, Tax & Advice at HU. In addition to the VIS project, students in this course perform other/flanking learning activities; the VIS_project is for the application of what they have learned. There is cooperation with 3 international partners (Canada, Finland and Switzerland) for this VIS project. This is necessary to serve the whole group of Dutch students (125). However, each class of the Dutch institution has only 1 international counterpart.
Implementation requires a great deal of flexibility on the part of teachers.
In 2015-16, the teachers involved began International Online Student Collaboration based on the idea that the quality of the learning experience in this subject could be enhanced by bringing an international perspective (to get closer to the reality of professional practice).
The VIS grant (February 2022) was used to revise and improve the existing Virtual International Cooperation.
Intended areas of improvement (revision) of the VIS project over its predecessors:
- Build in intercultural competence;
- Closer cooperation with international partners – more joint preparation;
- Interim (student) reflection – build in learning activities;
- Using the project explicitly for IaH of own teachers – incl. training for the international classroom.
Until the VIS application, the focus of the project was primarily on academic content.
Theme, collaboration and professional product of the VIS project
As advisory team to the Board of Directors of a listed company, NL and international students each write a merger report on the international merger candidate for takeover negotiations. For this purpose the teams consult financial and other relevant reports and have regular e-contact (under teacher supervision) with the international ‘colleagues’ of the merger candidate. Thereafter, the advisory teams of the Dutch institution and that of the partner jointly start the acquisition negotiations. They then hold a joint press conference for the (imaginary) shareholders and other stakeholders (environmental organizations, customer representatives, trade union) of both companies, in the presence of lecturers from both universities.
The project covers a period of 7 weeks. The students meet synchronously 4 times (incl. teachers and students of the international partner) and at least 3 times a-synchronously, in addition they prepare weekly assignments in their (mixed) group.
The product that the students produce is, on the one hand the final presentation of the out-negotiated acquisition and, on the other hand, the report on it, in which the consequences of the acquisition for all stakeholders in both countries have to be explained – for the acquired party and for the acquiring party.
For the preparation and implementation of the VIS project, the teaching team uses the expertise of the Internationalization Staff Department (for substantive VIS expertise and organizational and logistical support). In addition, a trainer in Intercultural Communication is involved in the VIS project (for developing assignments for the mixed student work groups and providing plenary, synchronous Intercultural Warm-up session at the start of the project in September).
Reflection of the teaching team on the implementation of the VIS project.
It adds value when an International Relations man or woman from the home institution can be involved in the project.
Implementation requires a great deal of flexibility on the part of teachers:
- The partner may be a different one each time;
- The teachers (home and partner’s) may change;
- The partner may cancel last minute;
- The partner’s curriculum does not match exactly (anymore);
- Schedules differ;
- Time differences can be challenges.
“This is something we need to pay even more attention to in the future; to eliminate surprises in advance as much as possible. That means building and maintaining good contacts and, on the other hand, a flexible attitude for when something does change unexpectedly.
In addition, incorporate new developments in business, consider acquisitions from other industries that may be of interest, annually update materials such as annual reports and press releases.
It adds value when an International Relations man or woman from the home institution can be involved; a project like this requires networking at the right level. Finally, visiting the partner for the final presentations, some live (and the rest online), is a nice addition.”