Learning Marketing in a Multicultural Context: A Pedagogical Case Study

Learning Marketing in a Multicultural Context: A Pedagogical Case Study

Duarte Xara-Brasil (Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal, Portugal), Manuela Carvalho (Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo de Lisboa, Portugal) and Sandra Nunes (Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2124-3.ch008


There has been an increasing degree of internationalization of several higher education institutions mainly under the ERASMUS context. Those mobility programs bring important gains in terms of students' competences to the Higher Education Institutions and to the employers, but there are also many constraints associated with the student's mobility process. The Setubal Brand Management is a multicultural pedagogical project that also promotes interpersonal skills and encourages a greater integration in the region and with local students. It includes students with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds. In this chapter, several specific pedagogical approaches were taken into account, such as: development of specific contents; implementation of different team-building actions; the inclusion of facilitating elements of communication; and the constitution of multicultural groups. A critical analysis of student perceptions and the sharing of the project with colleagues and with the academic community allowed implementation of several improvements.
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This paper presents the case study of a multicultural pedagogical project in marketing, with a focus on improving students’ mobility outcomes in terms of intercultural and cognitive skills. This is done through a tailor-made pedagogical project which was specially designed to improve their commitment, local integration, and personal satisfaction in alignment with these specific marketing course objectives. The process included two groups of 50 students each, from 10 countries, two teachers and two schools and an in-depth collaboration with the local government (municipality), which took place in Portugal in 2017 and 2018.

Firstly, this document includes a preliminary literature review centered on the internationalization of higher education and its impact on pedagogical practices in a context of significant cultural diversity and a range of educational backgrounds. After this, we describe our main pedagogical challenges and the methodology for designing and operationalizing the project, which included different cultural emersions, group interactions, icebreaking activities, and teaching assignments. From this case study, we obtained significant contributions to improving our ability to manage international groups and intercultural learning communities, respecting students’ diversity of cultural and learning styles.

The improvement of teachers’ ability to manage such cultural diversity and its impact on teaching strategies and students’ academical and intercultural skills are extremely relevant in this era of growing importance of the internationalization of the educational process, which faces important constraints related to international students’ local integration and their learning outputs. In fact, the literature shows significant dissatisfaction among students as regards mobility, caused by the way they are integrated into a group with very different origins, cultures and objectives. In many situations, they have very limited interaction with the local culture and less acquisition of multicultural skills, such as an understanding of other ways of thinking and cultural differences, greater openness to difference, respect, and empathy for others.

This project is based on the assumption that the development of an intercultural education is more than an addition to the existing curriculum, as it must lead to a closer relationship with the host location, within a systematic learning process where interactions are predicted, evaluated, and relevant, incorporating insights from all elements of the group, respecting their cultural, linguistic, and educational backgrounds and their individual learning styles, clarifying tasks and objectives, avoiding misunderstandings, and valuing each individual contribution. Other organizational and pedagogical requirements, such as providing icebreaking and team-building activities, the proper organization of students in working groups according to their cultural and educational backgrounds, linguistic skills, and some participant personality traits are also considered relevant in the literature and were considered in this project.

This project was carried out with in-depth collaboration with both schools, which are highly committed to the process of student internationalization and the necessary institutional transformations in organizational and pedagogical terms. The support of the city municipality allowed the conception of a real, local challenge that involved the students in the region and at the same time in the course contents. They also sponsored visits to different areas of the region, allowing team-building activities and a deeper understanding of the region.

Globalization as a process of shortening distances and the result of the increase in established networks and greater social, economic and political interdependence, has been an incremental process which began with transcontinental migrations millions of years ago (Gamble, 1994). To economics, trade, external investment, and the internationalization of many brands and companies have been added other parts, such as education and skills acquisition. Not being a recent phenomenon—as is the case, for example, with the development of the first European universities from the 12th and 13th century (Schwartzman, 1989)—it was in the 1980s that internationalization became a clear strategic option for many higher education institutions.

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