X-Culture is an international collaborative project where students work in global virtual teams for two months to produce a Business Plan. The X-Culture Project is organised by the Bryan Business School, University of North Carolina and each year it attracts over three thousand students from over 100 universities across the world. Ellie Hickman, X-Culture Tutor, and Mike Willoughby the Module Leader on the Corporate Marketing Strategy module, first trialled the project in early 2013 and, based on the positive feedback from the students who participated, incorporated X-Culture as a permanent option on the module.
As well as the Intercultural Learning Outcomes below, we have observed that students who engage in the Project develop leadership, teamworking and problem solving skills and gather experiences in these areas which they can use both at interviews and in the workplace, thereby enhancing employability.
From an institutional perspective, participation in the project raises the profile of Coventry University internationally and generates research opportunities both by providing access to a dataset (of participants in the X-Culture Project) that can be used for cross-cultural research and also by providing opportunities to collaborate with researchers from other Universities internationally.
Synchronous & asynchronous
Students work in global virtual teams over a 2-month period. During this time, they have to meet weekly deadlines. Three days before each deadline, each student receives a personal email with a deadline reminder and a personalized link to an online progress report form. The information is aggregated and the instructors receive detailed weekly reports on performance of each of their students. The students also receive weekly feedback, suggestions and updates on how their teams are doing compared to other teams.
Although much of the coordination, communication, and performance monitoring are managed centrally by X-Culture, instructors regularly communicate with their students and provide coaching and guidance as an important part of the learning process. Instructors normally devote at least a few minutes each lecture to discuss student progress, address concerns and answer questions.
At the end of the project, student teams submit their international business proposals via TurnItIn. The students also complete an online post-project survey that include-peer evaluations.
At Coventry we also ask students to write a reflective piece as part of the assessment to capture their experiences and learnings from the project.
Students can choose to use any methods to communicate with their team and we encourage Skype, Facebook, Google Docs and Dropbox to share and edit their work. Most students use WhatsApp or Facebook to communicate weekly with their team mates.
Readiness Test and Team Induction
Students must review the ‘X-Culture New-Market Entry Project’ materials and successfully pass a ‘Readiness Test’ for project engagement before being allocated to a globally dispersed team. After allocation, students establish online contact with teammates to decide on team structure and organisation.
Students must research and critically select a corporate client for the new market-entry project by end of week two.
Market Success Factors
Students critically consider organisational characteristics and product features to establish essential criteria for new-market selection. Students apply this criteria to investigate potential markets and ultimately select one target market.
The mode for market entry is developed. This should be supported by a comprehensive staffing and marketing plan for implementation and growth.
Project and Intercultural Reflection
Students submit a group report on the collaborative new-market entry project and must also submit a post-project survey to evaluate team member performances. CU students are required to submit a reflective account on their intercultural experience and learning. This also includes practical challenges of working in international and dispersed groups.
CU students: 19 in the academic year 2014-15.
Module: Corporate Marketing Strategy
Course: BA Marketing
Level of Study: Undergraduate, Year Three
Nature of the activities: Summative
Image by Karyn Christner (CC BY 2.0)