As a part of the 4M theme week, I asked a few of our professors to write about the first year of the new Marketing and Media Management program from a teacher’s point of view. Professor Per Andersson wrote about the interaction between 4M students and business reality.
One of the ideas that I and my fellow colleagues in the 4M faculty group had when we planned the program was that we wanted to create strong links between classroom activities and “business reality”. In other words, we set rather high ambitions to link the reading of marketing texts, case discussions, course projects etc., to guest lectures from business practice, to “live cases”, and to other forms of exposure to the business world. We set the ambitions high. For example, we decided to link the media management cases discussed (Warner Brothers, Google, Apple, etc.) to guest lecturers that should be directly connected to the business problems discussed.
As a teacher you are always a little worried how these guest lectures will turn out. How will the interaction between the students and the business manager turn out? How will the guest lecture “fit in” and contribute to the aims and to the totality of the course block? Now that almost a year has passed, I can say that I as a teacher feel enormously proud of my 4M class of and how they have helped lifting most of the guest lectures and guest lecturers to higher levels. The class has really understood that it is the interaction in the classroom that matters. By posing well chosen questions (and quite tricky questions), and giving intelligent comments and responses to the business managers, the classroom discussions have reached high levels. I have often been surprised during these guest lectures how quickly our 4M students have grasped the quite complex, strategic issues that the managers have chosen to bring up in their lectures.
And it is quite obvious that the managers have liked it too, and have felt that it has been time well spent. One of the managers whispered to me as he left the classroom after a guest lecture: “I rather envy your situation, to have the opportunity to spend your days discussing with such interesting and interested students.”
After a while you realize that with such ambitious and interested students you’re actually able to push them even more. So, in the planning of the course project in one of the courses (Frontiers in Marketing Management), I decided to challenge the 4M students even more. In the Service Marketing Frontiers block I decided to find a really complex and challenging “live business case” for them to solve in only a couple of weeks’ time. I picked the case from one of our ongoing research projects dealing with a new wireless communication technology, “Near Field Communication”. I asked the students to present a marketing plan for a mobile telephony operator aiming to take on this new technology and to launch a set of new mobile services. In short, a very complex new technology associated with many market uncertainties.
I was amazed to see how quickly and efficiently the students in only a couple of weeks managed to grasp the most important business and technology issues of this live case! To challenge the students even more (teachers can really be mean sometimes!), before the discussion I decided to invite a research colleague and specialist in the field and asked him to read the students’ reports and play “the devil’s advocate”. Once again, I was amazed to see how well the students managed to handle his “attacks” in the classroom. My colleague tried to keep cool during the discussions, but right after the lecture he said: “It was long since I had such a fun and lively “live case” discussion in a classroom!”
For me, and hopefully also for the students, the many interactions between the 4M group and “business reality” have been plenty and memorable. Moreover, there have been some interesting and rewarding interactions between 4M and my own ongoing marketing research projects, thank you 4M!
Given this year’s course experiences, the 4M students have challenged me and my colleagues. We will probably need to raise our ambitions even more in the future. That is, to link our courses and teaching to interesting marketing practice and the “business marketing reality” out there, and also to our own “marketing research reality” (in here). Thank you for the challenge, 4M!