How The London Experience and Porter’s Diamond Theory co-exist

A bus passes Big Ben in London

by Dr. Russell Teasley, associate dean of faculty and graduate programs Mike Cottrell College of Business

Business schools have witnessed an increased popularity of short-term rather than long-term study abroad programs. These programs reduce costs for students and reduce scheduling restraints for students but also pose challenges to achieve appropriate learnings during their shortened durations. Typically, these short-term programs lack theoretical frameworks to tie together learning strategies, meaningful itineraries and impactful experiences for students. But, we found that an effective theoretical framework helped us focus on site visit plans and related course objectives (in our case, International Business).

For 22 years, the Mike Cottrell College of Business has held its flagship short-term study abroad program, the London Experience. Students travel to London for 9 days and it is a component of a semester long international business course. Students take the course online and it covers the full scope of topics taught in its face-to-face equivalent. During 2009, myself (Dr. Teasley) and the other program designers incorporated Porter’s Diamond of National Competitiveness as a theoretical framework to guide the trip’s learning outcomes and site visits while in London. Since that time the College has developed a network of long-term and successful relationships within London’s financial services sector which is cited as England’s greatest wealth-producing industry.

When we did this in 2009, three pre-departure assignments and a post-trip student presentation supplemented the London itinerary, and addressed each component of Porter’s Diamond. Porter and colleagues researched many world-class business centers to identify four aspects of competitive advantage that operated in various locations around the world. Each center housed the following resources:

  1. a cluster of world-class suppliers and infrastructure;
  2. a critical mass of sophisticated, demanding customers;
  3. a system of favorable factor endowments;
  4. and, intense levels of competition and sophisticated industry dynamics.

All course assignments and trip site visits focused on these four factors as they evolved and operated within London’s financial services sector.

Both student participants and instructors believe this methodology has been valuable both to the study abroad experience and has increased the Mike Cottrell College of Business’ visibility within London’s cluster of international banking, insurance and support services. Long-term relationships in industry have developed that have opened windows of experience for students and exposed London companies to our unique student body. Students have also learned substantial lessons about competition in a globally significant industry. A recent article authored by two of our faculty members, Dr. Russell Teasley and Katie Simmons, as well as Dr. Marilyn Helms, pointed out the utility of Porter’s Diamond for enhancing short-term study abroad pedagogy as well as the Diamond’s transferability to other locations worldwide.

For more information, you can read our upcoming journal article in the Journal of International Business Education (forthcoming).

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