International Business Summit in NYC: A Perk of SAU’s MBA program

Hello, I am Professor Caleb Chan. I am one of the instructors and lead faculty in the International Business course (MBA607) in Spring Arbor University’s online MBA program.

In this blog, I would like to share with you something about the course which I have very much enjoyed teaching. This course helps students gain an appreciation of international business and principles of globalization, as well as trends and changing dynamics within a global economy.

Students will become familiar with the managerial implications of culture and cultural differences on organizational performance. Last but not least, students will develop a holistic view of applying the understanding of international business to address poverty problems around the world.

International Business Playing Field Has Been Leveled

With advancement in technologies and telecommunications, our world is becoming smaller. Author Thomas Friedman, in his book The World Is Flat, shares that there are ten world flatteners that have leveled the playing field.

In the past, unless a company had a large amount of financial resources to enter the world market, the entry barriers literally were so huge that it would have been impossible to compete with existing multinational corporations (MNCs) that had a competitive advantage over the smaller players. Things, however, have changed because of technological and telecommunication advancements.

This change is good news for many small and medium-sized companies, both here in the United States and those around the world. They don’t have to observe on the sideline anymore in the international business arena. They too can get into the excitement created by global opportunities that cross geographical, cultural and trade barriers.

With proper preparation, these smaller companies can thrive and contribute to the growth of the global economy. The MBA607 course includes an optional 4-day International Business Summit in New York City which is a highlight of the course and in fact a highlight of the MBA experience for many students. Spring Arbor University will cover all the expenses which include lodging, meals and local transportation. Students just need to find their way to NYC.

We have chosen NYC as the site for the International Business Summit for several reasons.

First, it is one of the most international cities in the world with such a diverse population from every corner of the earth.

Second, it is fairly accessible from almost any part of the United States and other large cities around the world. Students can fly in and fly out quite easily. Because the trip always takes place between Friday and Monday, over a four-day period, students who are full time working adults will not need to be away from work (and family) too much.

Third, because of the cultural, financial and historical richness of the city, students have many opportunities to get to visit different places when they are not in the “classroom.” The United Nations, the 9/11 Memorial Garden and Museum, the Brooklyn Tabernacle, China Town and Little Italy, for instance, are some of the wonderful places that we will be visiting.

There is indeed a “classroom” component in the Summit. Students will be sharing their research on current international business topics with one another just like they are attending an academic conference. Not only will students be listening to their peers give their presentations, everyone gets to participate in the discussions.

The Summit seeks to balance academic excellence with experiential learning while being intentional in providing plenty of networking opportunities among the students within their own cohort and across cohorts. Classmates quickly become friends as they navigate the subway system, walk down 42nd Street from Grand Central Station to go to the United Nations headquarters, and enjoy the most authentic Italian food in Times Square, or at a Chinese dim sum restaurant right in China Town. These experiences will be topped by a powerful gathering at the Brooklyn Tabernacle where their 200-member choir will lead us into an amazing time of worship, followed by hearing founder and lead pastor Jim Cymbala ( preach in their beautiful auditorium.

The four days at the Summit typically go by very quickly. After a closing session on Monday where we try to reflect on lessons learned, it is time for students to say goodbye to one another. While most students may come as “strangers” to one another, they will all leave as “friends.” This certainly will make a difference as they engage in learning together when taking future courses. When they participate in online discussion forums, for instance, students know very well to whom they are offering comments or sharing insights. We consider this a very nice bonus of the Summit.

MBA Program Examines Poverty Cure Documentary Series

In addition to conventional topics in international business, the course experience also takes us through the Poverty Cure documentary series which was produced by the Acton Institute (, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Students will be watching the series throughout the seven-week course and will reflect on the message presented by the producers. The series was filmed in many different parts of the world across multiple continents where poverty has or had its footprints. Throughout the series, students’ assumptions about poverty, as well as their charitable actions, are often challenged.

It is great, as a professor, to see the light bulbs go off after students have wrestled with some of the most difficult issues surrounding poverty and asking, “What would be our responsibilities so that our ‘generosity’ doesn’t end up hurting the poor or their economy in the long run?” The ultimate solution to alleviate poverty actually can be found in the globalization of the world economy, and empowering individuals to leverage on the world flatteners to create small to medium-sized businesses.

Like my colleagues, I look forward to being a co-learner with you in this course. I want to help you learn as much international business as you can and certainly am eager to learn from you as well. Each of you brings your understanding of the world and the different cultures it represents to the “classroom.”

It would be too presumptuous if we, as professors, think that we are more knowledgeable and wiser. The truth of the matter is that we might have just started on this journey earlier than many of our students. It is only through collective efforts that we can make a difference in this world. I hope that by now you have a better feel of what the international business course is all about and how this is taught.

I would very much like to have you join our learning community.

- Dr. Caleb Chan Professor and Dean, Gainey School of Business