Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsWelcome to the course, we're going to be working this week with a case study involving a recent graduate of, in this case, Purdue University who graduated with a degree in engineering and a minor in business administration. Mahle was hired by a very large, global equipment company that produces large manufacturing equipment and farm equipment and industrial use equipment, all the way down to smaller equipment such as lawnmowers and garden tractors. This particular company wants to expand the market in smaller developing nation and so Mahle was asked to take a short-term assignment in a small port city in this country that is a trading and business hub and shipping hub for the area.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 secondThe company provided her with an apartment and it's just a few blocks away from the office that she works in each day. The first morning or so that Mahle was walking on her way to her new office space, she walked past a fruit and vegetable stand that was managed by an elderly indigenous woman. This woman made eye contact with Mahle and Mahle nodded hello to her. This same, making eye contact and nodding, happened the next couple mornings and then finally, Mahle encountered what we call a critical incident.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 secondsAs she was walking by the fruit stand one morning, the woman raised her arm in the air with a clenched fist and began yelling at Mahle, foreign girl, foreign girl, brown girl, brown girl! Mahle Initially wasn't sure what to think and as you can imagine, she didn't feel comfortable, perhaps even felt a little threatened. She started walking much faster to get to the office that particular morning. The same thing happened the next morning, and the morning after that. My question for you is, how do you think you would feel if you went though this critical incident that Mahle just experienced?

Skip to 2 minutes and 22 secondsWhat I'd like for you to do is to take a few moments, click on the comment button below, and describe what you think you would feel, describe what you think you would do in this particular situation. Respond to some of your fellow learners, perhaps two or three others, respond to them, and what they are sharing with you. Let's begin a little discussion as we begin using this as a case study in our course.

Mahle's story

This course is aimed at those seeking to improve intercultural competency whether in the world of work or students going on study abroad. We are using Mahle’s case study as the basis in this course to illustrate the development of intercultural attitudes, knowledge and skills.

We will explore and discuss the opportunity for Mahle to develop the attitudes of openness and curiosity, knowledge of self-awareness and cultural worldview frameworks, and the skills of verbal and non-verbal communication and empathy.

Learning Outcomes for this course

By the end of this course, you should be able to discuss and demonstrate:

  • Attitudes of intercultural openness and curiosity
  • Knowledge of cultural self-awareness and worldview frameworks
  • Skills of nonverbal and verbal communication and empathy

What’s the big question?

Are you culturally competent?

Intercultural competence is increasingly important.

According to the Intelligence Unit at The Economist, 90% of executives in 68 countries say cross-cultural management is their biggest challenge. 70% of international ventures fail because of cultural differences. The first year expenses for moving an employee overseas is $700,000. 71% of employers want college graduates to be interculturally competent.

So let’s get started by viewing Mahle’s story. Please reflect on what you would feel and probably naturally do if you were her in this situation. Then click on the comment button below to post a comment. Next respond to the comments of 2 to 3 of your fellow learners.

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This video is from the free online course:

Improve Your Intercultural Competence

Purdue University

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