Staging the World Economic Forum on the MSc in International Business
Published 21 May 2009
As the world dips into recession, there’s never been a more important time to debate the value of economic ideas. This year's MSc in International Business students did just that recently, in a one-day simulation of the World Economic Forum.
The Forum, held in the grand surroundings of the Grange Hotel, in Cumbria, formed a highlight of the students’ year at Lancaster.
Dr Robert Read, director of the MSc in International Business, describes how the Forum works: “It’s an integral part of the MSc – assessed group work in which the students tackle issues of real importance in the current global economy – using ideas and materials that they acquired in the first two terms of the programme. The objective is for each group to propose economic solutions, and negotiate these with the other goups.”
Each group comprised four students, with groups representing some of the major world economic blocks: the USA, the European Union, Sub-Saharan Africa, India and China. The Forum is a chance for the students to gain practical experience of the ideas discussed in class, put academic concepts into action by putting themselves in the shoes of politicians and economists, and develop their co-ordination, delegation and negotiation skills.
One of the highlights of the MSc in International Business is an exciting simulation of the World Economic Forum. Students work in groups representing some of the major economic blocks: the USA, the EU, Sub-Saharan Africa, India and China. The Forum is a chance for students to gain practical experience of the ideas discussed in class, put themselves in the shoes of politicians and economists, and develop their co-ordination, delegation and negotiation skills.
The day's agenda focused on the impact of the current global economic crisis and proposals to alleviate its effects. Issues covered included international trade and protectionism, foreign direct investment (FDI), exchange rate management and foreign aid.
MSc International Business students with staff at the World Economic Forum simulation.
For the students, it was a long day, but an intense and rewarding experience. Before the Forum started, each group prepared a paper, outlining the position of their regional block for the opening negotiations. Group tasks were split between students, with each group member responsible for a different portfolio, such as monetary policy, trade, exchange rate and FDI.
For Robert Read, the real learning on the day came through the negotiations: “The students love it, they’re really having to think on their feet. You see them modifying their initial positions as the negotiations progress.”
The Forum gives the students a flavour of how economic principles end up in practice – which can seem a long way from academic textbooks. The kinds of negotiations and the way things are discussed, says Dr Read, are typical of negotiations in the real world.
“The success of the Forum depends crucially on how much people put into it. And the students really get stuck in. It’s a great bonding exercise for them, and brings the whole cohort together. It’s a really positive experience.”
The students clearly felt the same way. "Absolutely fantastic," was how one student described the Forum, and other feedback was similarly enthusiastic.
The Forum’s business concluded with a submission for global regulatory change, The Grange Declaration – a summary of the key decisions made at the Forum.
Dr John Mackness, the Forum Chair, summarising some of the key submissions in the Grange Decalaration, at the dinner which concluded the Forum.