Developing Social Identities and Business Skills in a Globalized World: The Case of Chinese MBA Students
Vivian Louie

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Harvard University

Primary Discipline

This study examines the processes of social identity formation and business skills acquisition in a globalized world among MBA students from the People’s Republic of China. I focus on Chinese students studying in elite Master’s of Business Administration programs in the United States for the following reasons. The MBA provides the professional knowledge sought by developing nations like China, with an emphasis on global markets, and a premium on global skill sets such as flexible and creative thinking skills and cross-cultural teamwork. Chinese students are consequently engaged with learning processes that differ from the educational system in China. Additionally, Chinese students are involved in identity processes related to migration as they navigate elements of new and old cultural contexts. This study will draw on longitudinal interviews and case studies to chart how Chinese adults experience and are transformed by the learning and cultural identity processes of global postgraduate exchange.By focusing on the Chinese case, this study addresses a key gap in the literatures: namely, the ways in which students, who come to the United States through postgraduate exchanges, interact with the American social context, and how this maps onto immigration paradigms; how Chinese students educated in an examination-based system experience the learning of global skill sets; and lastly, how their identities are transformed by migration, and relatedly, how they make choices about returning to China. A MBA program is an ideal venue in which to explore such matters, as Chinese international students will be engaged in acquiring the content that can facilitate participation in the global marketplace through the learning processes necessitated by globalization. The findings will shed light on the types of policies that would facilitate the learning processes in global postgraduate exchanges, and will provide a point of departure for future research on returning graduate students, who have been trained in elite institutions of business management, and their role in shaping China.
About Vivian Louie

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