Reflecting on the 'international group working experience': a study of two MBA programmes

Robinson, Sarah (2006). Reflecting on the 'international group working experience': a study of two MBA programmes. International Journal of Management Education, 5(2) pp. 3–14.



This study explores students' experiences of group working in an internationalising MBA context using the research perspectives of postcolonialism (Spivak 1993, Prasad 2003) and critical management education (Reynolds 1997, 1999, Currie and Knights 2003). Data are drawn from interviews with 30 full-time MBA students at two leading UK business schools. Students' perceived gains from the international group-working experience and areas of concern, such as practices of exclusion and domination that occur in the group-working process and a reluctance to talk about and reflect on their group-work experiences, are identified. By comparing international group-working experiences at the two case-study institutions helpful practices concerning organisation of group-work and induction are identified. The paper considers ways in which group work could be made more inclusive and how students can make the most of being in an international environment. Recommendations are made for future course design, including more induction focusing on modes of participation and cultural differences, specific induction to group working including the examination of language and behaviours and the use of critical dialogue and debriefing in making sense of the experience. The paper concludes that assumptions around the benefits of group working need re-visiting within the international context and training is needed of students and staff alike on how to make group work a more beneficial and enjoyable experience for all concerned.

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