Students Develop Strategy for International Market Entry of a Continuing Education Concept from the RegionA new collaboration between Aalen University with the company Development Quests and the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China

Alexandra Wendler, a student in the Healthcare Management study program at Aalen University, gathers valuable experiences in the international practice project. Photo credits: private

We, 21. July 2021

Aalen University students as well as students from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China worked together with the company Development Quests (DQ) in an international practice project. The focus was on the conceptual adaptation of special methodologies for career development, based on the expectations and needs of potential US-American and Chinese customers.

In the past three months, Bachelor students at Aalen University developed a market entry strategy for the company Development Quests in China and in the USA. The company Development Quests created a methodology for career development including individual coaching, and it is already active in Germany. With this, participants can take part in a so-called journey, a personalized and goal-oriented further education program, with tasks that build on each other, making up the “quest.”

„The goal of the practice project was to analyze whether and in what ways DQ’s already-established business model, which we had already taken to the first stage of scaling through Talenthelden GmbH, a company we founded together with a cooperation partner, can be transferred to other markets,” explains Michael Wohlstein, the founder of the company. He adds: “The focus on the target markets China and the USA was based on the huge potential of both countries, and also for the opportunity to observe the specific influence of other cultural spaces and find further information for the concept and international market entry.

Under the direction of Prof. Dr. Jana Wolf  and Prof. Dr. Jörg Büechl from Aalen University, the students were intensively prepared for the intercultural teamwork with China and the United States. For the practice project, students from the Bachelor study programs Business Studies for SME, User Experience and Digital Health Management formed interdisciplinary teams to investigate the US-American personnel market.

The background discussions and interviews with established local experts as well as a competition analysis offered students helpful information for further approaches. A survey of US-Americans followed to help identify and analyze potential target groups, and then based on the results, to derive recommended actions for market entry in the USA. Among these was the recommendation for developing concepts that will target direct business relationships with private people (B2C models), rather than the established methods in Germany, which is cooperation between companies (B2B models). These models may be met with better acceptance in the USA due to the culturally anchored high sense of self-autonomy in the USA. Another option would be coaching offered during cost-intensive university studies in the USA. Additionally, the students researched collaborations with US coaches, certifications, and associations and developed solutions through “Train-the-Trainer” models and franchising ideas.

The Healthcare Management students also had the opportunity to address the project “DQ goes China” with Chinese students from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. They were able to gather intercultural experiences through collaborating with the other students and gain an understanding for the local market in the field of digital personnel development.

Win-Win Project for Students and Project Partners

The practice project offered an ideal preparation for the students’ future careers, as both professors reported. “Through interdisciplinary and international collaboration with our praxis partner, the students learn strategic business planning and intercultural and cross functional methods and leadership skills, alongside the technical competences,” explains Wolf as the supervising professor of the Bachelor study program Healthcare Management. Büechl, academic dean of the study program Business Studies for SME, also saw advantages to the practice-oriented teaching for students: “Through the interdisciplinary project work with a focus on introducing digital HR tools and a concrete business model for the US-American market, the students got to know important success factors in the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship, and international management, which will help prepare them for their future international and agile project business.”

From the students’ perspective, the international project work also brought positive experiences, as Alexandra Wendler, a student in the Bachelor program Healthcare Management reports: “It was a great opportunity to gather experiences in an international project team with Chinese students and classmates from Aalen University, and work together on a practical assignment. It made management and cultural topics much more tangible and provided positive lasting impressions.” Jasmin Kucher, a student in the Bachelor Business Studies for SME confirms the diverse learning experiences: “For us students, this project was a great experience. The close connection to the praxis was especially nice, because the collected results weren’t fictional, but could actually be applied to reality. The professors also gave us a lot of leeway for creativity and our own ideas.”

The praxis partner was very pleased with the project’s results as well. “The students neatly investigated several issues and offered good ideas, which gave me valuable knowledge and new perspectives, as the client of the practice project. Maybe some of these can be found in practice with an international roll-out,” says Wohlstein.