KENNESAW, Ga. | Jul 31, 2023
A group of Kennesaw State University Master of Business Administration students recently had the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich history, vibrant economy, and diverse business markets of Israel thanks to the Comparative Business Systems in Israel program led by Assistant Professor of Marketing Prachi Gala.
This summer, seven students embarked on a journey that took them from the shores of the Dead Sea to the summit of Haifa's Mount Carmel, exploring some of Israel's most renowned cultural sites and cities. The primary objective of this graduate business education abroad course was to gain a comprehensive understanding of Israel's business landscape, political climate, social dynamics, and technological advancements.
Throughout the experience, Gala encouraged students to recognize the significant role culture plays in business and to understand the factors that influence Israel’s business environment. For example, students learned how the country’s scarce water supply has led to countless innovations, such as the creation of the Netafim irrigation system and many other advancements in agriculture designed to conserve water.
Also, by engaging with the daily life and language of Israelis, the students developed a deeper appreciation for cultural diversity and gained empathy, tolerance, and cultural sensitivity. Immersion in another culture allowed them to gain a global perspective, which broadened their horizons and enhanced their understanding of different customs, traditions, and ways of life.
“What surprised me the most about Israel was how multifaceted their culture was,” said, MBA student Sheri Blight. “They have a blend of Jewish, Muslim, secular, Israeli, Palestinian, and more meshed together to lead to impressive innovation. It was exciting to have a trip dedicated to seeing more about how a country works from the business side.”
In addition to cultural understanding, the program also provided students with an opportunity to learn about the country’s importance to multiple world religions. Israel's rich history, particularly its Jewish, Christian, and Islamic heritage, was explored through visits to historical and religious sites such as Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and Masada. This firsthand experience deepened the students’ understanding of ancient civilizations, biblical narratives, and the complexities of the Middle East.
“There were people from many different faiths in our travel group; Muslim, Hindu, Christian and agnostic,” said MBA student Maria Bayot De Hiteshew. “This was a fascinating experience with true diversity and inclusion as everyone shared their individual perspectives.”
Cultural immersion was only half of the experience, which also included a rigorous academic component. Before departing for Israel, the students attended two classes on Israeli politics, economics, and business. They presented on various topics including consumer privacy, multiculturalism from an Israeli business perspective, startups in Israel, and the effect of Israel's rich cultural heritage on the business world. These presentations allowed the students to delve into the intricacies of the Israeli business market and gain a comprehensive understanding of its Israeli and global contexts
“The business world is global,” said Blight. “As an MBA student, this experience gave me a better view of how different countries and different cultures approach problems in the business world.”
Furthermore, the students analyzed three case studies during the program. These cases, which included topics like rebranding a country, Israeli wines' expansion into China, and the future of the Israeli innovation ecosystem, provided real-world examples for the students to apply their knowledge and analytical skills.
Throughout their time in Israel, the students were also required to reflect on their daily activities and learnings. These daily reflections served as a means to process their experiences and further deepen their understanding of the business marketplace and cultural nuances of Israel. The reflections played a significant role in fostering lively discussions among the students during casual meetups even after the trip concluded, showing the lasting impact of the program.
Gala believes the MBA students can apply their experiences throughout their entire careers.
“One essential take away from the trip was the quote ’innovation is the mother of necessity‘,” said Gala. “Israel strives on this saying and every unique business we learned about was a record of that. Graduate students not only learned about the culture, but also their discovered passion and determination to survive and make the best out of the resources they possess.”
The Comparative Business Systems in Israel program provided MBA students with an invaluable opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of Israel's history, economy, and business markets. Through cultural immersion, historical exploration, and academic enrichment, the students developed a global mindset gained from insights into the complexities of the Israeli business environment. The program not only expanded their academic knowledge but also provided them with practical experiences that will benefit their future careers in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world.