Action learning in Latin America – Stuart Krusell

Director of the MIT Sloan Office of International Programs Stuart Krusell

Director of the MIT Sloan Office of International Programs Stuart Krusell

When a business in Latin America forms a partnership with one of MIT Sloan’s Action Learning programs, both the company and the students in the program emerge as winners.

A small team of students is assigned to work with the company. Most of the participants are second-year MBA students, who already had considerable work experience before starting their graduate studies. For the previous year or longer, the students have been gaining core management knowledge and skills in Sloan classrooms.

The company typically wants help considering the merits of a business initiative, such as entering a new market or launching a product. Many of the initiatives have an important technology component.

The Global Entrepreneurship Lab or G-Lab is the Sloan School’s largest Action Learning program, and it has a strong presence in Latin America. G-Lab participants spend three months studying the company remotely from MIT, learning about the business and its industry. Then, for three weeks, the students go to the company’s site, meeting with top executives and getting an up-close look at the operation. At the conclusion of the project, the team presents its recommendations.

The students learn what it is like to work in the country.  They develop deep, first-hand knowledge about the company and its industry. They gain the valuable experience of working in a small, high-level team. The only financial costs to the company are the travel and living expenses for the students’ site visit. In return, the company receives professional advice informed by the one of the world’s leading schools of management and business.

These projects are not academic exercises but real, professional consulting projects. The final result is not a term paper but a fully actionable document.

How action learning programs work will be the subject of a forum on January 7 in Santiago, Chile. Organized by the MIT Sloan Latin American Office, led by Director Lee Ullmann, the forum – entitled “New Dimensions in Action Learning”  – has both academic and practical dimensions.

Faculty and staff from two leading Chilean universities, Universidad Adolfo Ibanez and Ponticifia Universidad Catolica de Chile, will participate in panel discussions with MIT Sloan experts on the action learning model and how it can be incorporated effectively into business education in Latin America.

Featured in other panels will be representatives of Latin American businesses that have partnered with MIT Sloan Action Learning programs. These speakers, along with Sloan School faculty and staff, will discuss how the teams functioned in the companies and the benefits gained by both the businesses and the students.

Jose Miguel Benavente, chief of the Innovation and Competitiveness Division at the Inter-American Development Bank, will give the keynote address.

As the action learning model expands in Latin America, its effects will be felt not only by individual companies but also by the larger economy. By fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, and competitiveness, partnerships between companies and business education can set the stage for economic growth throughout the region.

Stuart Krusell is director of the Office of International Programs at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Members of the media are invited to attend the event in Chile. For more information on the conference or to register, please visit: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/international/conferences/new-dimensions-in-action-learning-conference/

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