Doing Business in Greece – RBGR 695
This is a 6-credit course designed for completion over a 10-week period, with week eight being delivered in-residence in Athens, Greece. The workload will be equivalent to taking one 3-credit online elective plus one 3-credit in-residence elective at the same time. Be sure to set aside enough time in your schedule for two courses. Because of the workload, students should consider deferring other courses in enrolling in this elective.
Greece is a Mediterranean country in Southern Europe, bordering with Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania. It is bordered to the west by the Ionian Sea, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and to the east by the Aegean Sea. Greece has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and cool mild winters. The ancient Classical and Hellenistic eras of Greece have left behind many ideas, concepts and art to provide the foundation of what we call “western civilization”. The greatest philosophers and mathematicians lived during these eras.
Greece is a developed country with an open economy that has a heavy reliance on the tertiary (service) sector at 85%. The remaining national economic output comes from the secondary (manufacturing) sector (12.0%) and the primary (agricultural) sector (3.0%). Although Greece is a significant agricultural and fisheries producer within the European Union, the tourist industry forms the basis of the economy. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Greece ranks as the 7th most visited country in the EU country and the 16th in the world. Also, merchant shipping represents 16.2% of the world’s total capacity. The Greek economy has been in recession since the global financial crisis. A new economic model is being implemented, aiming to create an investor friendly business environment which will foster a climate of confidence and trust based on entrepreneurship, international orientation and competitiveness.
Greece, since the end of 2009, was held up to the rest of the world as an example of the worst of the southern European economies, with a corrupt public sector running up massive debts and a private sector largely dependent on the state. However, a growing number of Greek entrepreneurs started building a new generation of innovative and value added enterprises, and laying the foundations of what could be a new economic landscape for the country.
Greek companies had a track record for being unproductive, inflexible, unable to cope with change and focused on consumption driven industries with low growth potential. Within this perspective, while the Euro crisis devastated the Greek economy, it also forced a change in the perception of entrepreneurship and general business mindset. Potential was identified in various tradeable (international orientation) sectors as digital applications, tourism and agriculture and transformational change was seen as the way forward for Greece. This change could take into advantage nationwide business opportunities as a four season tourist industry, high skill services and software, high value export agriculture, shipping and shipping services, natural resources and the great “Greek Civilization Brand” (creative industries, humanities education etc.).
In this elective, ‘Doing business in Greece’, students will gain real-world international business experience by exploring the aforementioned business opportunities as well as organizational problems that firms face when doing business in Greece. The core of this course consists of experiential learning opportunities through the lenses of real-case business challenges/projects of Greece-based companies (clients) that students will work on.
This course provides the opportunity for students to gain applied consulting experience in an international environment. This dimension of the course is likely to be a unique experience within the MBA program. The main responsibility of students is to satisfy the needs of a client. As a result, the expectations of the consulting project are relatively high as it is about solving real problems faced by an existing company. Therefore, the successful completion of a high quality consulting project requires a great deal of work and cooperation across team members and company liaisons. This is intended to allow students to acquire many consulting competencies and have a rich and rewarding learning experience.
Students will explore course concepts and tools through readings, case studies and online discussions during the first seven weeks of the course. The eighth week in Athens consists of lectures and discussions, business and cultural site visits, tours, and group consulting project presentations to the client. Moreover, students will gain direct experience from business establishment visits to a variety of sites that are the benchmark in their industry sector of activity.
The draft agenda for the week in Athens includes a visit to the Acropolis, a walking photographic tour in the centre of the Athens historical district, and company visits to COCO-MAT (a Greek multinational company specializing in mattresses & bedroom accessories), APIVITA (a Greek multinational cosmetics company – bee keeping experience), and Papagiannakos bio climatic winery (wine tour & tasting). We’ll wrap up the week with a visit to Sounio Poseidon Archaeological Temple (famous for its sunsets) and dinner in Vouliagmeni—the Athens Riviera.
Please note that student teams will be required to do weekly synchronous voice sessions (via Skype, teleconference, Adobe Connect, etc.) with a sponsor-company liaison in Athens during the first seven weeks of the course. These sessions may have to occur at irregular hours in order to facilitate the time differences between Athens and the varying time zones in Canada.
Students, working as consultants for real life companies, will build skills in:
- Innovative thinking and entrepreneurship
- Consulting (organizational diagnosis, action planning, social interaction, presentation)
- Project management
- Cultural and emotional intelligence
- Data collection, market, and operations research
To be eligible to register in this elective, you must have successfully completed Strategic Management STMT – 500 before the course start date.