Visiting Norwegian School of Management business professor Gillian Warner-Soderholm and Minot State University associate professor of international business Andy Bertsch won an award at a national conference for their research on international gender issues.
The colleagues had one of the top three papers at the prestigious International Business Conference in Washington, D.C. Their research examined several indexes related to women's well-being, such as access to health care and education, and employment outside the home and salaries, as well as individual countries and the prevailing attitude towards equal rights and equal treatment of women. In some cases, the country's ideal matched with the actual rights of women within the business and economic community and in others they did not, said Bertsch, who said he and Warner-Soderholm plan to continue their research.
Warner-Soderholm said the research showed that the Nordic countries were at the very top, while Arab countries, such as Yemen, were at the bottom on the indexes.
Gillian Warner-Soderholm has been a visiting professor teaching international management at Minot State University this summer. She will return home to Oslo, Norway, this week.
Bertsch said the world may seem more sensitive to gender issues but that doesn't necessarily translate into changes for women.
Warner-Soderholm and Bertsch met while they were pursuing a doctoral program at the University of Henning Business College a few years ago and have maintained a friendship and working relationship since.
Bertsch influenced Warner-Soderholm's decision to be a visiting professor at Minot State this summer, where she taught a course on international management.
Warner-Soderholm is British, but she is married to a Norwegian and lives and works at the university based in Oslo. She focuses on the importance of cross-cultural communication with her students and how it will help them in business.
Warner-Soderholm said she has noticed differences in the classroom environment between Norway and the United States. For instance, in egalitarian Norway her students are used to being on a more equal footing with their professors and have no problem calling her by her first name. Her American students were a bit more formal and settled on calling her "Professor Gillian." An Asian culture such as Japan might be more formal still and she might have to adapt her teaching accordingly.
Understanding a culture and being able to adapt to it is important for establishing a business relationship. It also helps address any challenges that might lie with cultural differences. For instance, in an extremely egalitarian society people might have a harder time getting things accomplished because they aren't sure who to look towards as the leader.
Warner-Soderholm said at Minot State there seems to be more focus on problem-based learning. Students in a class might be put in groups of three and four and asked to solve a problem and write a business plan.
Warner-Soderholm said she's enjoyed her time in North Dakota and has paid note to the ongoing oil boom and the housing crunch. Norway also enjoys some oil revenue, she said, though there are fewer people living there.
Bertsch said their review on gender issues is under review by a committee but they hope to have the research published in an educational journal.