As mainland China beckons companies from around the world, gaining an in-depth knowledge of the country's unique business environment has become essential for business leaders. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) offers two programmes to equip leaders with inside knowledge: the master's of science in China business studies (MSc CBS), and the OneChina MBA.
Both programmes aim to shine a light on China's evolving business environment for companies that are eager to penetrate the market, but that need to learn about how to do business in the country.
The biggest challenge for business leaders working in China is to understand the policies and the political risks behind the country's policy making, which sets the scene for the business environment, says Dr Haitian Lu, programme director of the MSc in China business studies.
He says the desired learning outcomes for the MSc CBS are to teach participants to 'understand the changing business environment and the underlying driving force for such change; and to know how to respond to such [a] changing environment.'
The economics-based, multi- disciplinary programme aims to do this by focusing on all of the areas that impact business in China, using the latest scenarios from the country's business environment linked to relevant business theories. Students learn about current business practices and how to analyse the evolving government polices and regulations impacting commercial operations in the country.
As China's business environment evolves, the course content has evolved too, explains Lu. '[We] are revamping the programme, preparing for the launch of a mixed-mode programme starting from 2013 to 2014. In addition to the existing curriculum, we are also prepared to enrich the content by adding more China-related subjects that cater [to] students' needs, such as: cross-cultural management, essentials of Chinese culture, and contemporary issues in China business,' says Lu.
The programme includes a compulsory China study tour. 'In past years, our students have been taken to over 20 first- and second-tier cities in China,' Lu adds.
'The six-day study tour usually contains elements such as meeting local government officials, visiting representative enterprises and [talking] with entrepreneurs, guest speeches by local esteemed universities. Through the tour, students gain not only [the] latest business exposure, but also precious local connections in China,' Lu says.
The MSc CBS is aimed at those who have already gained some experience of international business, and who hold a bachelor's degree or equivalent in a business-related subject.
Students have an average of eight years' work experience, although new graduates may also be considered. Those with more experience may lean towards the OneChina MBA, which is designed for those with 13 or more years of experience, and who are ready to take on a general management role and move up the career ladder.
The programme's name is derived from its structure which allows students in Hong Kong, Xian and Shenzhen to study a subject in any of the locations and in a different language.
The course focuses on enhancing leadership skills, explains Howard Davies, professor and associate dean (programmes, teaching and learning), faculty of business at the PolyU.
'Our programme places a particular emphasis on leadership in the Asian context, which is where our faculty members have done a lot of top class scholarly work,' he says.
Teaching is led by a faculty with expertise in their subject areas. '[Our] first concern is that [teachers] have a deep and confident understanding of their subject area, so they can help students to make sense of their experience,' says Davies. 'This, in turn, means that teachers need to be engaged in research which is close to their teaching.'
The OneChina MBA was completely revised last year, resulting in an expanded number of subjects and credits, the addition of an individual investigative report and enhancement of the leadership development aspect of the programme.
'We are working with one of the world's top leadership consultancies to develop it,' says Davies. 'The PolyU MBA is a very demanding programme, but we are proud of the accomplishments of our students who are being equipped to prosper.'