Companies organised like clouds, new worlds of work and the three pillars of digitalisation, globalisation and flexibilisation

The International Business and Export Management master programme has been updated, with changes to the curriculum taking effect from this autumn. Prof. Michael Bartz tells us how the content of the programme’s new electives were designed to reflect changes already underway in the world of business.

Prof. (FH) DI Michael Bartz explains the three new electives of International Business and Export Management.

Three new electives

One of the programme’s new specialist modules is called Collaboration in the Next Generation Enterprise. “As the title says, this is about changing working practices. Due to the impact of digitalisation, there will be more and more virtual working in companies – people working remotely, across continents, as well as in the office. Mobile, flexible forms of work already exist in Austria – people don’t come into the office every day any more. Suppliers and customers are integrated, and companies like these are more comparable with clouds that are constantly changing shape,” explains Michael Bartz.

The objective of this elective is to show how it is possible to work productively in companies which are geographically dispersed, and how they can achieve their objectives with a fluid, agile and flexible organisational structure.

“I would opt for this elective if my ambition was to work my way up to an executive position, in an organisation with a modern structure. Or if I wanted to work for an international company or one which is very innovative and forward thinking; there are lots of these in Austria like Egger Holz, Erste Bank and Mondi – this is the trend across the entire service and manufacturing sectors,” says Bartz.

Development of Export Opportunities is another of the new electives. It looks at international and global flows of goods. According to journalist and author Thomas Friedman, the world has become “flat” as a result of digitalisation. Bartz explains: “A supplier based in rural China can offer its products and services in Europe, just like a company from the Waldviertel region of Austria – they are on an equal footing.” Due to digitalisation, trade and export works differently today. A provincial Chinese company is now able to compete thanks to new digital trade and communication channels. “This is what students on this programme are preparing for very thoroughly. There are three main steps involved. It effectively begins with the idea – the product, company or start-up idea – and how to translate it into a business model or product suitable for a particular market. For us, the question of business models is crucial in this context,” Bartz adds.

Sales and Marketing using new channels and new forms of marketing is another topic covered in this module. For students with a special interest in international companies and export and trade, this elective is excellent preparation for assuming a wide range of responsibilities.

The last of the three new electives is titled Advanced Financial Management in International Business, which looks at a number of specialised aspects of financing. “It deals with two important areas: digitalisation has fundamentally changed financial markets and forms of financing. Take crowdsourcing or crowdfunding – there’s nothing exotic about them any more. Waldviertler Schuhe started using such approaches a long time ago. To begin with it was highly illegal; they had to bring it into line with the legal restrictions,” says Bartz.

Regulations are now in place that permit these types of financing models. “This is exactly where I’d start today. I wouldn’t automatically go to the bank like in the past; I might also turn to alternative or start-up investors – that’s another new field. Maybe I’d use online platforms – they’re new financial instruments – and that’s precisely what we look at in detail in this elective, so that everything runs smoothly when using these tools,” summarises Bartz. The question of how a company should present itself – from a financial perspective – in order to attract investors is also addressed in this specialist module. “As a company, manager, employee or CFO – which is definitely a possible future career – you have to pull the right levers so everything looks its very best. This is another important aspect to learn about,” according to Bartz. Such an external perspective is innovative and distinctive. The elective principally opens up career opportunities in the areas of controlling and financial management. It could also set students on the path to becoming a chief financial officer or executive with financial responsibilities.

The workplace of the future

Companies are changing rapidly, and working practices are also being fundamentally redesigned – especially in offices, but also in manufacturing. One of the main reasons for this is digitalisation. With a laptop, smartphone and tablet, you can get almost anything done no matter where you are. There are virtually no limits. “This is also the case at work. In the 90s, if I wanted to send a message quickly, I had to find a fax machine. Today, I’ve got my smartphone. As long as I’ve got reception, I can send a message using any number of channels. I can chat, email, telephone or video conference – everything,” explains Bartz, an expert in the new world of work. The consequences of this for business organisation are mobile working, home offices and hot desking. Types of work and the locations where they take place are changing.

Flexibilisation, digitalisation and internationalisation – these three pillars are behind the growing demands of the new world of work.

Interested in studying on the programme?

The deadline for applications for the International Business and Export Management master programme is 15 July.

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