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The UCM Integrative Business Experience (IBE):
An Intensive, Hands-on Foundation for Undergraduate Business Education

Undergraduate business majors typically encounter two problems in developing an integrated view of business organizations. First, students have seldom worked in anything but low level, part-time jobs that contribute little to their understanding of the workings of business organizations. Second, because of the discipline-based structure of business schools, their course work often compounds the problem. They typically complete several core courses that focus exclusively on the concepts and terminology of a single business discipline. They then advance to a series of specialized courses that are increasingly narrow in scope and that are primarily concentrated within their major field of study. More often than not, students' only cross-discipline exposure to business concepts occurs in their final term when they enroll in a single Policy/Strategy course.

The Integrative Business Experience: A Comprehensive, Hands-on Solution

Harmon College of Business students at the University of Central Missouri have the opportunity to participate in an intensive, hands-on program that directly addresses both problems. This program, called the Integrative Business Experience (IBE), was inspired by the MG101 program at Bucknell (Miller, 1991) and the Integrated Business Core (IBC) program at the University of Oklahoma. As in MG 101 and IBC, students in IBE will simultaneously create and manage two significant enterprises: an actual start-up company and a hands-on community service project. Thus, both programs create a laboratory that provides students with the opportunity to: 1) develop interpersonal and group-interaction skills in a work-like setting, and 2) learn from their experience of trying to apply key business concepts and analytical tools to solve a wide range of unstructured, but very real problems.

The strength of IBE for enabling students to develop a clear understanding of the 'big picture' results from two key factors. First, it is an integral part of the core business curriculum. During the first semester of their junior year, IBE students will be required to concurrently enroll in three junior-level core business courses (Marketing-MKT 3405, Management-MGT 3315, and Information Systems-CIS 3630) along with an Entrepreneurship and Community Service Practicum course. Second, the content coverage and many of the assignments in the core courses will be specifically sequenced to support students in organizing and managing their business and service ventures. Students will be able to make the conceptual connections across disciplines because, on an ongoing basis, they are using concepts and tools from all three core courses to guide their decisions in the business and service organizations.

 

For more information please go to http://ibe.ucmo.edu.

 

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