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Meet the editor of... Journal of International Education in Business

An interview with: Dr Joanna Crossman
Interview by: Margaret Adolphus

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Photo: Dr Joanna Crossman.Both higher education, and business, are global, hence the need to focus on the provision and quality of international education at business schools. The number of international students continues to rise and one estimate predicts that in 2025, 7.2 million students will be studying outside their home country. Business schools especially are an intercultural phenomenon.

The Journal of International Education in Business was launched in 2008 by two Australian academics, Dr Sarbari Bordia at the Australian National University, and Dr Joanna Crossman at the University of South Australia. In 2010 it was acquired by Emerald. The journal is peer reviewed, and provides a forum for the pedagogic, administrative and employment related issues concerning international students in business/management programmes.

Dr Sabari Bordia obtained her PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia, and her EdM from Temple University, USA.. She is now senior lecturer at Australian National University College of Business and Economics. She has done research into psychological contract breach.

Dr Joanna Crossman obtained her EdD from Flinders University, having previously obtained an honours degree in anthropology and history, a PGCE, and a diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. She is now senior lecturer in the School of Management, University of South Australia. She describes herself as a "passionate international educator" and her 35-year career has seen her doing stints in Norway, the UK, the Middle East and East Malaysia. Her research interests are in intercultural communication, international education, innovative assessment and learning, globalization and internationalization in work and learning contexts, emotions in work and learning, secular spirituality in education and secular organizations, and grounded theory.

Mission and editorial objectives

You started this journal in 2008. What motivated its inception?

Many universities all over the world enrol a high number of international students into business programmes. Also international education in business programmes contributes to developing international perspectives among graduates. These perspectives are essential to the success of organizations operating globally. However, it seemed very clear five years ago that, to our knowledge, no journal specifically addressed the issues of international education in ways that focused on its application in the context of business programmes in higher education, or its impact and implications for practice in global organizations. It filled a gap.

How would you describe the journal's mission, and editorial objectives?

The Journal of International Education in Business (JIEB) is a peer reviewed journal concerned with subjects related to teaching and learning practices in culturally diverse academic business contexts, and it includes consideration of any implications for the workplace.
JIEB is what one might think of as an emerging journal, but the prime reason for this is not simply that we are "youthful". It springs from an equally emergent, but quickly expanding field of enquiry. Our mission, therefore, is to take a broad and flexible view in terms of the interests of our authors and our readers so that JIEB can make a contribution by being sensitive to the ways that academics construct issues in the area of international education in business contexts.

An early decision that we made in relation to our mission was that the journal's focus on internationalization should not simply be a matter of publishing papers about internationalization, but also one that practises internationalization. In other words, we welcome papers that originate from culturally diverse settings, perhaps at a local level, but can be mined to inspire and inform others internationally.

Of course, we also value high standards in terms of academic rigour, integrity and innovation.

You say on your web page that you welcome "both research and scholarly papers". Could you explain the distinction between "research" and "scholarly"?

In my view, research informs practice. Research must be relevant to practice. Research involves the collection and analysis of original data in empirical ways. Scholarly papers, in contrast, involve a discussion of concepts through a critical engagement with empirical literature. We are interested in both quantitative and qualitative studies about international education in business settings.

Whom do you see as your principal, and secondary, audiences?

I see the principal audiences as business academics and organizations that employ business graduates. Secondary audiences would be all those academics practiscing in contexts where students are culturally diverse.

Publishing issues

What made you choose Emerald as a publisher?

As an academic, my job involves publishing regularly so I like to think that I have developed a knowledge about those journals and publishers that are highly regarded by both academics and practitioners in the field. In my experience, Emerald is focused on the product and will support various stakeholders at all stages of the publication process to make sure that the readers have a high quality, well informed product that an audience can trust. Its people, processes, technology and practices all seem to be focused in that direction. I am proud to be associated with Emerald and excited about what that means for the future of JIEB.

How do you see the journal changing now that it is part of the Emerald portfolio – for example, number of articles per issue, issues per year, range of authors, special issues?

Emerald can lay claim to both resources and expertise so the quality and the future of JIEB is in safe hands. As a publisher, its reputation in the field will assist in sustaining consistent exposure necessary to attract highly competent work internationally. For the time being, we think two issues per year is sufficient, but essentially decisions about how many issues are published each year will depend on the quality of the papers reviewed. The exposure that Emerald brings will also enable us to ensure that a range of perspectives are represented. We already have some great ideas for special issues in the future. Watch this space!

You are a relatively new journal. What for you were/are the main challenges in getting started?

We were sure that the brief of the journal was original, significant and timely, but the support of a major, respected publishing house gave us access to audiences, expertise and resources we would not otherwise have had, the lack of which presented initial challenges.

How do you and Dr Bordia work together on co-editing the journal?

Sarbari and I have been colleagues for many years and know each other well. We have enjoyed some different cultural experiences and interests and perceive that each of us has certain strengths that we bring to our strategies as a partnership. We loosely share the leadership of particular issues of the journal as individuals, but in reality we work together very closely in putting each issue of the journal together.

Your own research and career

You describe yourself as a "passionate international educator" – can you elaborate on this?

I am not sure I can explain how I got to be passionate about international education or more generally, cultural diversity. I grew up in a very culturally homogenous community – a village in Europe – so when I discovered that alternative ways of doing and thinking about things were possible, the notion seemed refreshing. That excitement was deepened by living and working in Asia, Scandinavia, the UK, the Middle East and Australia; and many other adventures elsewhere too. I am grateful to the students I have taught because they have also contributed to my learning. This process has involved collaborating with others in trying to make sense of life and work in positive and productive ways that capitalize on the synergies cultural diversity tends to ignite. I am passionate about this. It is an important step towards the peaceful survival of the planet

How have your own experiences teaching overseas affected your teaching and research?

By understanding that not everyone is like me and that if, as an educator I want to contribute to the learning of others in the world, I must plan my teaching and research beginning with the assumption that cultural differences in work and learning mean that everything is contestable. Working overseas tends to encourage a greater focus on developing a "you" not "I" attitude in approaching what is expected of the learning experience and what a useful outcome might "look like". Living overseas has also helped me to appreciate what it feels like for some international students to be marginalized in a community, linguistically, culturally, racially and perhaps spiritually too. Living with that humbling experience and thriving in it is a long journey.

One of your research interests is intercultural communication. Do you follow Hofstede's view of cultural differences being real, and capable of being clustered into different dimensions, and how can cross-cultural awareness benefit the workplace and the campus?

Hofstede has contributed a great deal to discussion about how culture influences organizations and ultimately all intercultural relationships in a globalized world. He gave us some vocabulary and concepts to help us get started in our conversations. However, I am less interested in potential similarities and differences in comparing cultures (that really are crude generalizations tempered by all manner of factors such as personality) and more interested in what happens when individuals from different cultures get together to consider responses to issues by collaborating. Communication, the environment, peace, poverty, etc., on a global level are challenging issues and learning how to work together interculturally, in my view, is part of the solution.

And finally...

Australia currently boasts the third highest number of student enrolments, only exceeded by the UK and the USA. Are there lessons that the Australian experience can teach international education worldwide?

I think all those who recruit international business students need to share what they have learned and work out how the knowledge available globally is relevant to their own contexts. Like the UK and the USA, Australia is a culturally diverse society and cultural diversity is an increasing global reality that requires collective and shared expertise in order to capitalize on its potential for the future. But many other countries are developing international education in their universities and communities so it's important to acknowledge and welcome their contribution to the discussions we have around the internationalization of business contexts – which takes me back to your question on our mission statement and walking the talk on internationalization ...

Publisher's note:

Dr Joanna Crossman was interviewed in July 2011.

Visit the information page for: Journal of International Education in Business