Open letter to CBS' President about closing Japanese

Skrevet af Michael Jakobsen, INT Associate professor and Asian Study Programme Director - 1. december 2015 - 14:310 kommentarer
INT Associate Professor Michael Jakobsen, Director of Strategy and Planning at Asia Research Center and Asian Studies Programme Director.

INT Associate Professor Michael Jakobsen, Director of Strategy and Planning at Asia Research Center and Asian Studies Programme Director, writes an open letter to CBS' President Per Holten-Andersen about the harmful effects of 'taking out' the Japanese language programme.

On Friday November 13th a conference with the title, ‘Meetings across mindsets: navigating contexts of culture and language as a key to international business success’, was held here at CBS.

The main focus and point of the conference was to acknowledge that due to an increasing complexity of engaging in international business an understanding of context in business studies has become so much more important.

Zooming in on the notion of context two key features come into the fore, namely the impact of culture and language on the performative and communicative aspects of especially international business practices.

Without a proper understanding of the normative values that are transmitted through language the different mind-sets that govern various business practices in the grey zones between the local and the international becomes rather difficult to grasp and thus navigate.

This goes for all parties participating in a business transaction.

This way of understanding international business constitutes one of the corner stones at ASP. The structure of the programme consists of three interrelated analytical levels, the societal, industry and corporate level, combined with language studies in either Japanese or Chinese.

The programme is thus based on a kind of tripod, that is, economic studies combined with studies of Japanese and Chinese languages that condition each other so as to provide the students with a holistic understanding of Asian business practices.

That the language part of ASP is of great importance to the programme has been commented on and praised by international business players – including the companies making up our advisory board, which consists of amongst others companies such as Carlsberg, Huawei and two SMEs within the design industry, Ayanomimi and boBles, both are engaged in the Japanese market.

These companies mode of characterising current ASP students can be summarised into two key observations. The first one is that language studies provide the students with an extra competitive advantage compared to other bachelor programmes at CBS.

This competence provides companies that employ ASP graduates with an extra avenue for learning how to navigate the Japanese and Chinese market thus giving them a competitive edge.

The second observation from the companies in the ASP’s advisory board is that ASP graduates are attractive to businesses due to the fact that they have gone through all the difficulties of learning such difficult languages as Japanese and Chinese.

This demonstrates that these graduates are not afraid of going the extra mile to acquire knowledge that not only lies close to their hearts, but also helps them in their future careers.

Closing down Japanese studies at ASP has a negative impact on the structure of the programme in terms of balancing the relationship between economic and language studies.

By having both Japanese and Chinese language studies two of the biggest markets in Asia are covered in terms of a deeper understanding of what norms and values drive these markets as well as how they are being communicated and thus transmitted in these contexts.

By acquiring an understanding of the importance of the role of languages in a societal and economic context, processes that drives other Asian economies thus lies open for further exploration.

Now, adding to the language studies more general Asian economic studies reinforces this cultural and linguistic understanding thus providing ASP students and graduates with a holistic and complex perspective on Asian business practices, which makes them even more attractive to future employers.

By taking out Japanese language studies ASP is set to lose the capability of providing future students with an understanding of what drives the world’s third largest market in terms of norms and values.

By maintaining Japanese language studies at ASP a holistic understanding of the relationship between society and economy is secured thus connecting ASP to other Asian studies carried out at CBS. Here I am especially thinking of the linkages to the research platforms at the Asia Research Centre as well as the CBS emerging markets platform that focuses on Asian, African and Latin American markets.

In relation to the former it is important to stress that ASP emphasises the importance of focusing on the interaction between the Chinese and Japanese markets as these studies provides important insights in how other Asian markets are doing.  

It is thus imperative that the economic studies taught at ASP are generically oriented. Leaving out Japanese language studies at ASP would weaken such a general understanding of Asian economics.

For this reason I urge you, Per, to roll back the decision of closing down Japanese studies at ASP.

This decision not only tilts the balance in an otherwise well-functioning, business relevant and unique programme that attracts students from all over the world, but also threatens the international reputation of CBS as being a multi-disciplinary and multi-lingual business school that understands what it takes to become an effective player in the international market. B

y providing deep insights into various modes of navigating a rather volatile global economy for the benefit of our key stakeholders, the Danish industries and society at large, this must be a main concern for all of us at CBS and definitely also for the Asian Studies Programme.

On behalf of the ASP study board, the ASP advisory board and not the least the current and future ASP students.

Michael Jakobsen
Programme Director, ASP