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Qualitative study of international business associate's degree programs delivered by United States community colleges

Kruse, Constance Lee
Scope and Method of Study: The United States has become internationalized. Government officials, education authorities and associates as well as the business community have solicited community colleges to provide the necessary knowledge and skills to students so they might achieve competence in the international business area. To date, only a relatively small number of community colleges have implemented an international business Associate's degree. In addition, educational researchers have requested the sharing of information on quality programs in international business. This study provides a listing of colleges offer the degree, surveys these colleges to provide information on facilitators and barriers to this program's implementation, gathers resources from these colleges, and provides a fuller description through site visits to four peer-nominated community colleges with quality international programs.
Findings and Conclusions: Results of the survey provided information on the 22 community colleges which provided evidence of currently offering the program. It was determined that more than 20% of the colleges advertising these programs were, in fact, not delivering them. Primary barriers included inadequate structure, natural resistence to change, and inadequate funding; major facilitators were active participation of faculty, knowledgeable instructors with experience in international business, and, ideally, a full-time employee advocate for the program. The support of all levels of personnel at the community college is needed. The most common method of infusion is the injection of modules into existing courses; however, this has proved to deliver an insufficient body of knowledge, so advocated is the creation of new courses and/or an entire curriculum focused on international business. Characteristics of the quality programs include the support of the administration, active participation by faculty, instructors with working experience in the field, and students with diverse backgrounds in the program. This research identified a core curriculum to which each community college could add courses to fulfill one of the three program focuses depending on community demand-either general, trade, or cultural sensitivity. Resources and community college contacts for future providers of international business Associate's degree are included. Active partnerships with the business community were found at all quality site visits. Additionally, site-visit colleges started networking information. Few colleges knew anything about any other college delivering this program, and several stated that limited resources of time and money impeded program implementation and growth. In this electronic information age, consideration should be given to implementing an electronic exchange where information and experience could be shared.