Food has always been rumored to be the way to a man’s heart, but a group of students from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics learned it could be more profitable than that. It could be the key to a successful international business deal.
This summer, a group of nearly a dozen students made a study abroad trip to East Asia. Fred Parker, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, says the idea of the trip is to teach students practical lessons as they prepare for a global business world. “They really do value the idea of how business is done in China but don’t have to learn Chinese,” he says, adding that this experience adds the opportunity to learn a little bit about everywhere rather than a lot about one place.
Parker says the trip veers from the more focused cultural immersion of a traditional four-month study abroad experience. Instead, the students visited four different Asian cities–Shanghai, Seoul, Beijing and Bangkok–in 17 days. In each city, the group witnessed how business was conducted over meals in different countries. “For instance, if you do business with the Chinese, you only have the numbers,” Parker says. “If you do a deal in Latin America, you’re going to spend the meal talking about friends and family.”
The students also visited North Carolina trade offices in the host countries. In future trips, planned for South America in 2012 and Europe in 2013, Parker says he hopes to engage more NC State alumni with entrepreneurial ventures in importing and exporting in those countries.
Counting for three credits, the trip required two papers to be written by the students. They could also get another course credit if they chose to do a research project on East Asia. Regardless of the research, Parker says there is one clear takeaway for those who make the trek.
“The biggest thing that they take away is that they’re going to have culture shock, but if you do business in these places, culture shock is short-lived,” Parker says. “There’s a reason international business cities are business centers.”