Experiencing South America first-hand: new field studies

January 17, 2017

Focus on emerging economies in Latin America during Global Executive MBA residency

As of its next start in April 2017, the Global Executive MBA will take students not only to China, India and the USA but also to two of Latin America's most exciting countries when it comes to doing business: Chile and Brazil.

Apart from helping participants develop a thorough understanding of the special characteristics of the economic, political and social situations in these highly different countries, the new residency will provide them with an opportunity to make valuable contacts in the course of visiting local as well as international companies.

Various tropical fruits at a fruit stand
In the near future, MBA students will travel to South America. Photo © CC 2.0 by Bruno Soares

For the first time ever, a Global Executive MBA class will travel to South America from July 2 to July 8, 2017: The students will spend 5 days there, visiting Santiago (Chile) for 3 days and São Paulo (Brazil) for 2 days.

In planning the new residency, the WU Executive Academy has left nothing to chance: “We have chosen these two countries on purpose because we are convinced that with this residency we will generate real added value for our students. It goes without saying that emerging economies are particularly exciting as they continue to offer countless business opportunities. However, there are fundamental differences between them regarding their institutional frameworks. What is the socio-political situation? How difficult is it for foreign investors to gain a foothold in the market? How is the labor market doing? How important are trade unions? As far as these questions are concerned, the contrast between the 2 countries is one that could hardly be more exciting. Understanding the dissimilarities and having personal contacts on the ground makes all the difference in terms of whether or not a business will be able to succeed in the market in question,” say Prof. Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, and Prof. Bodo B. Schlegelmilch, Academic Director of the Global Executive MBA.

Street food stands in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo © CC 3.0 by Adam Jones
Street food stands in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo © CC 3.0 by Adam Jones

Two dissimilar neighbors

Chile is considered to be Latin America's shining example in regards to its economic situation: The country has one of the highest per-capita incomes in Latin America and is a top performer in terms of life expectancy and living standards. Moreover, Chile ranks among South America's most business-friendly countries and is said to be very progressive when it comes to fighting corruption.

Brazil, for its part, is the world's sixth-largest economy. For some years, the country has been in recession. However, despite significant budget deficits, declining exports and high unemployment, it has seen a considerable influx of foreign direct investment in recent years, which clearly illustrates that Brazil continues to be an attractive destination for foreign investors.

Picture of Santiago in Chile
Exciting company visits are arranged for the students in Santiago, Chile (above photo) and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo © CC 2.0 by Gonzalo Baeza

Company visits—the highlight of the residency

During their five-day study trip to South America, the program participants will engage in a wide variety of activities: In the mornings, there will be MBA classes. In the afternoons, the students will visit regional as well as international companies to gain first-hand insights into the special characteristics of the businesses and the markets they operate in. Thereafter, they will get together with representatives of the top management in order to compare notes.

Studying, sightseeing, salsaing

Prof. Bodo B. Schlegelmilch believes that residencies are an integral part of high-quality MBA programs:

Portrait of Prof. Bodo B. Schlegelmilch

Prof. Bodo B. Schlegelmilch

  • Global Executive MBA Academic Director

You can always read about a country in order to find out something about its economic strengths and weaknesses, the business opportunities it offers and the major players operating there.

But gaining theoretical knowledge from a distance is never the same as experiencing things first-hand. It is for this reason that we place great importance on giving our students a chance not only to witness for themselves the differences in business culture, the political risks at the regional level and the social characteristics but also to exchange views and opinions with people on the ground.

The Global Executive MBA class will also have plenty of opportunity to take in a wealth of non-business-related impressions—be it in the course of a capoeira class in São Paulo, a geocaching hunt in Santiago or a salsa night. After all, the residency is designed not only to give the international students multifaceted insights into South America but also to help them get to know one other better.

Three men doing Capoeira on a beach, the ocean in the backgroung
A study trip to Brazil wouldn’t be complete without a capoeira course.

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