A week in shipbuilding-city Shanghai

7 November 2014

40 MSc students were given the experience of a week in Shangai to learn the ins and outs of cross-cultural business between Norway and China.

The students have had a week packed with lectures by professors from the BI Fudan MBA program and meetings with Norwegian companies.

- I really feel this trip has given me a unique insight into Chinese business culture and the challenges and opportunities of operating in this vast market, says Willhelm Blomdal (24), who plans on coming back to Shanghai on an exchange programme. One thing I found particularly interesting and surprising is the way Norwegian companies must adapt to the Chinese way of negotiating business, and how relations, or “guanxi”, plays a vital role. 

This year, China has surpassed the US as the biggest trading nation in the world. With Norway’s maritime expertise and existing relationship with China, BI is in a unique position to educate both current and future industry workers on the influence culture has on business.

Heidi Wiig Aslesen, a professor at the Department of Innovation and Economic Organization at BI Norwegian Business School, is in charge of the exchange trip to Shanghai and says:

- The trip is an introduction to our module in International Business. It is an outstanding opportunity for the students to learn about all the factors that influence a business process in an international context. Whether you are going to sell, produce or innovate abroad, it is essential to understand the cultural framework and the cultural business rules. Both the formal and the informal ones. In my opinion, taking young students abroad is the best way to reduce this distance.

Innovation in the shipyard

Visiting the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding-yard outside Shanghai gave the students an opportunity to experience one China`s most important industries. The shipyard covers 21 million square meters and employs 10 000 workers. From its beginnings in 1999 it has developed into one of the world`s top five shipyards in relation to production capability. Ships from the Norwegian ship owners Ulstein and Frontline are also being built here.

- Being here makes them realize the size of the market they will compete against in the future. I believe the trip to the shipyard also illustrated the mix of modern high-tech and old industry in China.  You see super-advanced oil rigs being built, and then you see some of the 10 000 workers biking around on their rusty bikes. This duality is something you have to see with you own eyes to be able to grasp, says Aslesen.

The speed of China’s maritime industry development is accelerating and international business relations along with it. Visit the BI MSc webpage to find out more about the learning opportunities BI offers.

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