IXP Course: China; Understanding China's Business Environment - Harvard Business School MBA Program

IXP Course: China; Understanding China's Business Environment

Course Number 6015

Professor Elisabeth Koll
On-Campus meetings during the Fall semester: Wed., 10/17, 11/7, 12/5 from 5:30 - 7:30pm. Final meeting with each team after return to campus in Q3 by individual arrangement.
Program fee & travel costs (see details on financial aid eligibility)
January term travel, Monday, January 7 through Friday, January 18, 2013
1.5 credits applied toward Winter term requirements
Enrollment: Limited to 40 students

Career Focus

This IXP is intended for students with a general interest in understanding the entrepreneurial opportunities and challenges in China, in particular how the complex relationship between business and government affects companies and their managers doing business in an emerging market. Focusing on the role of entrepreneurship, students will get to explore various types of business institutions ranging from private and state-owned companies to multinational companies in joint-venture arrangements. As the constantly evolving economic and political framework creates a high level of uncertainty, this IXP allows students to analyze how managers and entrepreneurs in the setting of domestic/multinational companies identify these uncertainties and manage their business models and strategies accordingly. For those students with concrete career interests related to working in China, this IXP will enable them to explore which skills they would need to acquire or develop further to work successfully in this environment.

Educational Objectives

As a field-based learning experience, the China IXP will offer visits with companies in various industry sectors ranging from IT to manufacturing, real estate, consumer goods, and venture capital and include interview opportunities with managers and entrepreneurs across different industries and functions. Students are able to gain insights into the interaction of companies with local and regional governments which often pursue an agenda separate from the central government. Students will meet Chinese, overseas Chinese, and Western managers and executives with different backgrounds and career paths.

This IXP also provides a deep immersive experience based on field study that will give students an in-depth perspective on entrepreneurial opportunities and challenges in the context of the Chinese consumer market. Throughout the immersion students will be able to connect their analysis of the domestic consumer landscape to the issue of how domestic and foreign companies can best explore the opportunities offered by a fast-growing and highly fragmented consumer market in urban and rural areas.

Students will learn from faculty members by working closely with them during their field exercises in the country, and they will also learn from each other during the immersion by working in teams and comparing their projects.

Course Content and Organization

This China IXP will be structured in three parts as follows:

  1. During the second half of the Fall semester, we will meet for three two-hour sessions on Wednesdays from 5:30-7:30pm (10/17, 11/7, 12/5). During these class meetings, we will read articles, papers, and background notes to (a) understand China's general historical, political, and macro-economic framework, and (b) lay the groundwork for assessing the development of business institutions, different forms of entrepreneurship, and the consumer market in the wake of the economic reforms.
  2. From January 7-18, 2013, students will accompany the faculty on a field study trip to China. Students will undertake their fieldwork in different geographical locations - high-tech hub and political center of Beijing, commercial and financial center of Shanghai, second-tier and logistics hub of Changsha in central China --, and thus experience first-hand the highly regionalized and localized nature of government and regulatory frameworks. The fieldwork in Beijing and Shanghai will give students the opportunity to examine urban middle class consumers and their behavior; the fieldwork in Changsha creates a stark contrast by highlighting the context of a second-tier city (and third-/fourth-tier cities in the surrounding suburbs and countryside) that has become a focus of the government's economic policies to create transportation and communication hubs linking central China more efficiently to the coastal key areas and thus reducing income and growth disparities.
  3. Students will present their fieldwork in China at a capstone event in Shanghai; back in Boston, the small student teams will turn their field projects into final papers while working closely with the faculty. The students' final grades will incorporate their final paper, field work in China as well as engagement during the IXP learning.


No prerequisites

r EC Courses that Complement this Course

Students can combine this China IXP with the field course Entrepreneurial Opportunities and Challenges in China's Emerging Market (please see description for course number 6655) in Q3 for 1.5 credits. Working in teams of two or more members with Prof. Koll, field course students will complete a field-based project that relates to specific companies or industries (U.S., multinational, or Chinese) and how they deal with competitive, regulatory, and strategic challenges/opportunities in the China market. Students can work on a project of their own choosing with instructor approval. Apart from regular team meetings with the faculty, the whole course meets four times in Q3 to share and give feedback on the projects in their different stages. Students who determine at the start of Q3 that they want to develop their field project further and in greater depth can approach Prof. Koll about registering the field project for 3 full credits across Q3 and Q4.

Course Credit and Fees

Students who successfully complete this China IXP will earn 1.5 course credits, which will be posted in the Winter term. HBS will provide in-country logistics for the IXP (including accommodations, select meals, and local travel) but students will need to contribute a fee of $1,300 towards defraying a part of these costs. In addition, students are responsible for their round-trip international air travel to China. Students who have an existing financial aid application on file may submit for additional financial support to participate in this IXP. Please see the Financial Aid website for more information on financial support for IXP courses.

Please see the IXP website for information regarding student accommodations on IXP courses.