Endlessly walking along the cobbled alleyways in the Old Town Square surrounded by baroque, gothic and art nouveau architecture of impressive churches and palaces; the picturesque view of the Prague Castle along Vlatava River which becomes livelier especially on sunsets while locals and tourists alike are strolling around Charles Bridge; the classical theatre, music, opera, and ballet are simply gorgeous; and not to mention, the abundance of Czech beers on every corner of the city. These are just a few of the treasures that Prague has to offer.
The International Business in Context module is led by Professor David Brown bought the full-time MBA students at Lancaster University to Prague for a week-long experiential learning of the unique culture and business environment of Czech Republic. The module correspondingly aimed to expose the students into different approaches of managing the multi-national enterprise in different economies and developing the ability to operate internationally in business.
Why Prague? Prague had a unique history and socio-economic environment. Czech Republic was one of those countries in Eastern Europe which were formally communist controlled. Currently, it is one of the fastest growing economies in the Europian Union. It is very interesting to know what is going on in these countries and how Czech people do their business in a different way. Czech people are more intuitive, you do something because in the past you have learned to do it that way.
The history of Czech Republic was introduced through various talks from local speakers, company visits and a tour of the Museum of Communism, spanning from the soviet union communist period until today’s new Czech open market economy. Jaroslav Halik from the University of Economics, Prague gave a background talk on the Czech privatization process in the 1990s. It was followed by a lecture on how the Czech nation transformed into today’s democracy in just a short span on time by Radek Spicar, a VP from Confederation of Industry. Despite the challenges faced and lessons learned, the Czech people remained united and optimistic.
In addition to the culture and history exposure, the students visited Terezin Little Fortress and Museum of the Ghetto with Martin Belohradsky, a retired scientist who is now enjoying his career as a professional guide. Terezin’s story is a powerful one, of ‘the failure of civilization’ which tells us those sad memories of the past are better understood for us to build the world together in peace and harmony.
Trips to local entrepreneurs who shared their challenges and learnings to the students which included wine tasting as Johann W Winery in Trebivlice. Furthermore, Max Munson, the owner of Jama Group gave an inspirational talk about the successes and failures of business start-ups in the country. The local beer industry visits in Kozel Brewery and Unitice Micro Brewery gave an understanding of how beer played an important role in Czech Republic’s economy.
One highlight of the trip was a tour of the foreign-owned multinational corporations such as Coca Cola HBC, Foxconn, and Skoda Auto. The focus on these trips was to gain insights on how multinational entities cooperate across its various businesses around the globe, and moreover to understand the relationship between parent company headquarters and its operations in the Czech Republic in terms of autonomy and degrees of freedom.
Aside from the beauty and charm of Prague and its neighboring countryside, the Lancaster MBA students have gained plenty of learning insights and competitive advantage in this Prague trip through its people, culture, history, past and present economy. This immersive experiential learning broadens our mind on a forward-thinking approach and encourages a critical reflection of the significance of the things we have learned about Czech Republic and its wonders.