Global classroom

The reality of international interaction really came through today in the Mergers & MBOs class. Prof. Paulo Volpin commented that ‘So, eefectively, ve see Germany has a pooor accounting seestem.” To which, immediately, a German pounced up and said, “I don’t go with this result,” and proceeded on a defence of why the system was right for Germany. A few other Germans joined in. Poor Prof. Volpin had to make a hasty retreat. Later, when making a similar comment about Belgium, he first clarified: “Are there any Belgians in the class?”

A while later, he gave an example in China. One of his friends, a consultant, told him that the Chinese sometimes picked a well-running company and forced it to go bankrupt, just to show the World Bank that their bankruptcy system was working fine. A Chinese practically shouted out that bankruptcy protection was needed, because otherwise 20,000 labourers would be in the streets, and this stupid consultant obviously was not aware of what really happened, because the Government had lots of bad companies to make bankrupt, so why would they pick a good one?

Today’s case discussion was on a Japanese company called Koito. A Japanese is in our team, and he was often asked to comment on what he felt was the situation. He didn’t speak much in class, really. During the break, he came over to me and said, “You know, I would like to speak much. But I cannot. My English is not very good.” As with most Japanese, his entire education was in Japanese, and while he did have some courses in written English, there were almost none in Japanese.

One of the slides was a comparison of market capitalizations of various countries. India was not found on the list. So the Japanese turned to me, politely, and asked “Where is India?” Naturally, I didn’t feel like telling him that the Bombay Stock Exchange had a market capitalization so small that it wouldn’t have been possible to put it on the table.

Well, so much for globalization!

The standard of class participation is extraordinary, though. For example, when we were discussing the EMI-Warner Music merger that was called of recently, one person commented, “Last week I was talking with a Director of EMI, and he said the reason was such-and-such.” I mean, we have people who’ve actually been involved in some of these deals in class! I feel like a baby when I open my mouth.

But that proved not quite the case, actually. We were discussing the Koito case and I did open my mouth on a couple of occasions. During the break, Prof. Volpin comes up to my desk and says, “So, Anand, you seem to know quite a bit about the Koito case. How come?” I mumbled something about Internet searches. Guess there’s something to be said for IIM-B after all…