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Third Intensive Programme of the Erasmus Strategic Partnership Prominence successfully completed

Practising Cultural Intelligence across Cultures – Mercuri students together with other forty international students work on international marketing strategies in cross-cultural teams. Third Intensive Programme of the Erasmus Strategic Partnership Prominence successfully completed in online format (16-18 November 2020).

More than forty students from across Europe and overseas have been working successfully in cross-cultural teams on an international marketing project this week. The University of Savoie hosted the third and final Intensive Programme as part of an EU project entitled PROMINENCE (PROmoting MINndful ENCounters through intercultural Competence and Experience).

This project is financially supported within the framework of the EU funding initiative Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships. Over a period of three years, seven university partners collaborated from Aschaffenburg University of Applied Science (Germany), University of Economics of Bratislava (Slovakia), University of Debrecen (Coordinating Partner/Hungary), University of Economics in Katowice (Poland), University of Savoie MB (France), Seinäjoki University of Applied Science (Finland) and the University of Economics of Varna (Bulgaria).

Each of these short intensive programmes aimed at fostering international teamwork and learning about theories and practices of working across cultures. The programmes were delivered in English to a total of 150 students over the last two years. The University of Economics in Bratislava run the first Intensive Programme "Languages and Cultural Diversity" in 2018 and, in 2019, Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences hosted the second IP, entitled "Managing and Leading in Different Cultures".

In their cross-cultural teams, students were assigned to develop a marketing campaign for a focal brand on different European markets. Dr Stephane Ganassalie , Associate Professor at the University of Savoie, who coordinated the intensive programme with a focus on marketing strategies and practices summarises the ambition of the latter: "We wanted the students to experience all stages of a product development on the beer market, within an intercultural context. Their task was to consider cultural differences in two European countries, and define their marketing mix accordingly. Students were assigned to international teams and were collaborating via online tools and could enjoy a true immersive cross cultural situation."

In addition to the three Erasmus+ intensive programmes, online modules (Prominence Interactive) to foster cultural intelligence across cultures were developed as one of the concrete project deliverables. The third Intensive Program was forced to run online in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which initially gave the partners some trepidation. However, the shortened virtual version turned out to be a great success: "One of the unfortunate weaknesses of some EU projects has always been that partners team up to work on a common project task, but still often end up individually developing their own parts, which are then put together in a final, patchwork-type version. The current situation actually required the partners to work together more closely to ensure a seamless harmony in the program elements. The same applies to how the international student teams cooperated over the three days. What we witnessed transpiring was our project’s true goal coming to fruition: mindful, respectful and cooperative communication towards reaching a common goal, through openness, honesty and personal dedication to a task and especially to one’s team. I could not be prouder of my colleagues or the student participants," says D. Troy Wiwczaroski, Associate Professor at Debrecen University and coordinator of the PROMINENCE project.

Through this EU project, all seven European university partners signed up to further develop their respective internationalisation strategies and deepen their bonds through respective Erasmus+ cooperation arrangements on student and staff mobility in place, within the EU funded flagship programme Erasmus+. The project ended with an international multiplier event hosted online by Seinäjoki University on 19 November 2020, with the title "Intercultural Competence at Work", seeking to share and disseminate central findings and engage stakeholders in academia and the world of work in the discussion.

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