Assignments for the Fall 2004 International Seminar - China


Please keep in mind that the International Seminar you have signed up for is a class with many of the same types of requirements as any other MBA class. There are reading assignments and written assignments that will be evaluated.  One area where the International Seminar is somewhat different from a typical UC MBA class is that you are acting as a representative of our college and university in a foreign (in all senses of the word) environment.  Thus, while some of the rules listed here may seem strange or obvious, they still need to be stated and observed.


Attendance: You are required to be on time and attend all seminar sessions. The only valid excuse for missing a session is illness (please don’t get sick overseas and a hangover doesn’t count!).


Conduct: Please observe local customs about classroom conduct.  For example, in many places, it is rude to eat or drink in class.  Ask before doing. Some instructors will conduct an informal American style class.  Others will be more rigid and formal. Be respectful of these differences.  That’s part of the cultural lesson. Pay attention to the culture readings. They offer good guidance. Business casual dress is fine.  We are representing our school and don’t want to be perceived as “Ugly Americans.”


Classroom environment: You may note that in some instances classrooms tend to be darker and warmer than ours. Be prepared.


Assignments: In addition to reading the material and attending the sessions, you have two assignments, described below.  The first assignment is 20% of your grade, class participation (attendance, etc.) is 20% and the post-seminar assignment is the remaining 60% of your grade. 




You are to keep a written journal during the program. Your journal entries (one per day; 1-2 pages, handwritten) should cover observations about cultural/ national differences in business practices that you observe. These could include such things as differences in restaurants or services; preponderance of small independent shops; markets for “knock-off” products (intellectual property and patent issues), market infrastructure or differences in product availability, marketing or packaging. These are just examples. This should NOT simply be a travelogue. It is essential that your observations be related to business. I assure you that there will be no shortage of eye-opening differences. You should attempt to analyze the importance and meaning of the observed differences. This is due by October 1.



 Term Assignment Options


The term assignment accounts for 60% of your grade for the International Seminar Course. Keep in mind that if you intend to count this class towards any concentration other than International Business, your term assignment must focus on that discipline. For example, if you want to count this as a Finance class, the paper must have a Finance focus. Additionally, you must indicate your intention to count the paper towards a particular concentration PRIOR to turning it in.


These assignments may be done in teams of two (2) people or individually. The expectations will be the same regardless of whether you do it individually or as a team. The objective is to apply the knowledge you have gained from your seminar, research that you do when you return, and your prior MBA course work, to practical issues of doing business in China or broader policy issues regarding trade with China.  We are giving you several options for fulfilling this assignment. The objective is for this assignment to match your particular international business interests and experience. You can customize them or propose your own assignment  (Option #5) These assignments will require that you go beyond the material covered in your seminar and do some research upon return.  These assignments are due to me NO LATER THAN November 29. You may turn in a hard copy or an electronic copy. Submit the paper to Dr. Gales. Both Dr. Gales and Dr. Welsh will review papers.


Option 1: Develop a business plan for your organization (one where you currently work or one that you select) that focuses on building or expanding operations overseas.  What kind of political, cultural, economic, financial, marketing, human resources and logistics/distribution issues must the company address to be successful?  Be careful.  If, for example, you determine that your firm should form a joint venture or acquire a local firm, you must be able to identify likely candidates. You should identify whether your operation will be a sales, distribution, and customer service center, or if you will also engage in production overseas.  You also need to provide financial/accounting information that shows the potential costs and benefits of this venture. (Could count towards Management, Operations, Finance or Marketing, depending on the specific emphasis on those subjects.)


Option 2: If your company is already running an operation in China (more than just selling a product), you can evaluate the company’s current operation along the same dimensions listed in option 1. 


Option 3: Design a training program for developing personnel in your organization for placement in China and for preparing Chinese to work in your organization in the US. You need to identify key areas where employment practices and culture in the US differ from those in China. You should also be aware of typical patterns of expatriate adaptation and re-entry. The plan should cover (but is not limited to) such issues as evaluation and selection of potential candidates, compensation, employee relocation expenses, portability of benefits, and language and cultural preparation.  Your plan should also deal with repatriation of expatriate managers after their overseas assignments have ended. (Counts towards a Management concentration.)


Option 4: Develop a marketing plan for a product or service to be marketed in China.  Be clear on the modifications that would be necessary for the product or service; how you would need to change packaging, pricing, promotion, distribution, etc. The plan should discuss such issues as local production versus importation, local competition, and potential partnerships or alliances. What are likely barriers that you will encounter? (Counts towards a Marketing concentration.)


Option 5: Propose a project.  You need to get approval from me for the project no later than the beginning of the second week of Fall term (Oct 4). Of particular interest would be papers that focus on trade policy issues, WTO membership, economic policy issues (particularly around currency) and other macro policy issues.


My expectation is that the term project will be a professionally developed document that you could present to the people who would be making financing and operational decisions related to the proposal. I don’t like to put specific page requirements on these projects, but in the past these have typically been about 25 pages, single-space text plus references, exhibits and tables. Quality is more important than quantity! Please make certain to include all references (including web references) and to cite sources within the text itself.


If you have questions or need clarification on this assignment, don’t hesitate to contact me ( or 556-7127.