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Master HRM experiences International Collaboration

Human Resource Management Master Students from Pforzheim University and Coventry University – opening doors for international collaboration

Human Resource Management Master Students from Pforzheim University and Coventry University - opening doors for international collaborationWhen doing business in an international context, culture plays a central role and most of the collaboration takes place virtually. This international collaboration is very important and yet has its challenges.

In their class on international HRM, students from Pforzheim University got together with students from Coventry University to gain experience in both: learning about culture and its underlying theoretical foundations as well as working together with the help of digital tools.

The students used a social collaboration platform to share insights about different cultural models. In groups, they gathered information on some of the most widely used models of national culture (Hofstede, Trompenaars, Lewis, and the GLOBE study). They could find a brief introduction to the model in the social collaboration workspace - but also had to conduct their own research and share that with the others through the platform.

Like in many company projects, the different groups had at that time not yet met in person. "Getting a collaborative project off ground in a virtual setting if you have not yet met each other, is quite a challenge", says Anja Schmitz, HRM professor at Pforzheim university. "The students did a great job and found out a lot about what works and what doesn't work in such a project phase. Not yet knowing each other, problems with the technology, different response rates ... All of this is exactly what you experience in international work settings", she continues.

After this initial asynchronous collaboration phase, the students got together in a synchronous virtual meeting. In their groups, they met through teleconferencing robots. Dr. Nick Wylie, Principal Lecturer in HRM at Coventry University, explains that "the robots are an excellent tool for virtual meetings. The Pforzheim students were able to control the robots and move around so that they could better facilitate discussion. The Coventry students were even able to give their German counterparts a short tour of the University ". During the discussion the students shared their findings about the different cultural models and compared these theoretical findings with their real-life work experience. They were able to draw on a wealth of experience. The Coventry students came from 12 different countries from Brazil to China and many of the German students had previous work experience in different countries. Both Nick and Anja agreed that "It was really great to see the depth their conversations reached and the value of sharing such varied insights".

From the students' perspective, this collaboration also offered a new experience: "The OIL (Online International Learning) project was a unique opportunity to learn more about cultural differences and interact with international students through a highly innovative platform! I really enjoyed the experience." Patricia Ferrari (MSc International HRM student Coventry University) pointed out.

"Getting the chance to interact with HRM students with different cultural backgrounds during our collaboration with the University of Coventry was an insightful and enjoyable experience. I am sure that everyone involved could gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and benefits of an intercultural working environment and will appreciate the valuable insights this opportunity has provided us with." replied Hanna Pötzl (MSc HRM student, Pforzheim University).

Also, I really liked that we were given robots in order communicate with our international project members. It almost felt like we were meeting face-to-face and definitely made our online meeting much more lively and interactive. Nick Wylie and Anja Schmitz definitely want to continue this collaboration between the two Masters programs. "It was a great learning experience - not only for the students, but also for us. It has enriched our knowledge about the different university systems, we were able to learn from each other's teaching approach, and it inspired many ideas for further research and teaching projects. We are really looking forward to introducing our next student groups to each other".

"Collaborating in different computer-supported environments offers a different learning experience from class-room based face-to-face instruction. It enables learners to further build competencies on the personal, the content, and the methodological level" the two of them pointed out. Competencies that are shifting from "nice-to-have" to "can't-do-without" in the workplace.

Further information

The MSc International HRM at Coventry University is designed specifically for those who want to pursue global careers in HRM, this course covers the essential theoretical knowledge, intellectual frameworks and practical skills required by today's employers in a range of international business contexts. The MSc HRM at Pforzheim University is designed for students with a strong interest and previous theoretical and practical backgrounds related to Human Resource Management. The program combines theoretical approaches to the field with practical skills as well as applied research projects.