Learning to Work in China

Keith Dierkx ’99 is on an innovative track as head of IBM’s Global Rail Innovation Center in Beijing, China. He faces many challenges in his global position, and says "being globally aware and trained is as necessary as breathing.” 

Additional Information

blair_class

The Culture, Civilizations and Leadership (CCL) multi-term course examines the fundamental historical events that frame the politics, business, and society that exists in each region today. Special emphasis is placed upon successful periods of time in the region, or a specific country, which shaped the present culture.

Course Objective

The goal of this course is to consider the implications of the origins and evolution of civilization in every region in order to understand the debates and issues current today, the cultural residue, and the regional advantage and disadvantage. The implications of these issues are considered for managing a global enterprise. You will examine the cultural and contextual forces that act upon business in each region, as well as the elements of civilization and globalization.

An Integrated Curriculum

The course complements other courses within the curriculum, providing a context for understanding the challenges of running a globally distributed business.

Experiential Format

The course is primarily experiential in which you will develop an understanding of each location through direct interaction and conversation with significant players from around the world. Your speakers are either experts on the country related to one of the perspectives below, or they are exemplary leaders within the region.

Current issues within the country/region are taken from 3 perspectives:

  • The present basis of competitive advantage and disadvantage for the country
  • Critical current debates and social and economic issues within the country
  • Current business climate

The cultural residue of that history is presented through three lenses:

  • A relational framework that emphasizes the differences in importance of types of relationships
  • A communications framework that contrasts differences in patterns of data gathering and communication across cultures
  • A civilizational framework looking for fundamental differences in the evolution of civilizations in terms of the nature of exchange and property rights and how governance mechanisms, culture, religion and education evolved to support them

Regional Immersion

As part of the course, each residential location includes an Experience Day during which you will leave the classroom and be pushed out of your comfort zone and into new cultural and professional situations. You will touch and see for yourself the concepts that are explored during class discussions.

Bennet Place
Slideshow: Durham Experience Day

Durham Experience Day Sample Schedule

11:15 am – 12:45 pm: Cultures, Civilizations and Leadership class
12:45 – 1:20 pm: Travel to Bennett Place by bus
1:20 – 1:40 pm: Lecture by your professor at Bennett Place
1:40 – 2:10 pm: Drive through Lyon Park and Forest Hills areas of Durham
2:10 – 2:20 pm: Guided tour & lecture at Mary Duke Biddle House
2:30 – 4:00 pm: Durham Entrepreneurship panel discussion at Duke Corporate Education with Christy Schaffer, Hatteras Venture Partners; Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor; Mitch Mumma, Intersouth
4:00 – 4:30 pm: Drive through Research Triangle Park (RTP)
4:30 – 6:30 pm: Formal presentation and networking reception at Quintiles
6:30 – 7:00 pm: Travel back to Duke campus

Sts. Peters and Paul Cathedral
Slideshow: St. Petersburg Experience Day

St. Petersburg Experience Day Sample Schedule

10:30 - 11:30 am: Country Briefing with David Gray, Managing Partner, PwC Russia
12:15 - 12:45 pm: Drive through Nevsky Prospect and Palace Square
1:00 - 1:45 pm: Visit Peter & Paul Fortress - the original citadel of St. Petersburg
1:45 - 2:15 pm: Travel from Peter & Paul Fortress to Smolny Institute
2:30 - 6:00 pm: Visit Smolny Institute and Cathedral
6:00 - 6:30 pm: Drive to the Monument of Heroic Defenders on the Victory Square
6:30 - 7:00 pm: Flower-laying ceremony at Monument of Heroic Defenders of Leningrad
8.00 - 10:00 pm: Optional classical Russian ballet at Mariinsky Theatre

Extend the Classroom

During each residency, you are encouraged to explore and try things on your own to broaden your perspective and provide further examples illustrating the concepts discussed in class. For example, you may visit a local market, negotiate over the price of fruit, and discuss the vendor’s supply chain and business model. Or visit a local restaurant and take an adventuresome approach to the menu – taste the traditional foods and interact with local patrons. In some regions, getting from point A to point B is a challenge in itself when you must overcome language barriers with a taxi driver. You’re encouraged to record your experiences and reactions in a journal, or within the class discussion board for debate.