Purdue Study Abroad 2017


Trip Abstract:

In this Study-Abroad option for fulfilling the Globalization Experience Requirement, Purdue University Polytechnic Statewide students will participate in a multifaceted Central European Multinational Automobile Organization Supply Chain Experience.  They will tour the BMW factory and operations in Munich, Germany; the Volkswagen facility in Prague, Czech Republic; the second-largest European port in Hamburg, Germany; and the largest European port in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  Students will also participate in tours in those cities based on two themes: Cultural Immersions and the History of Capitalism/Trade.  As part of the course requirements, students will select one automobile organization and write a consulting report recommending how its European supply chain should be integrated into its corporate leadership strategy during the upcoming years.


The statewide automobile industry and its supply chain have become very important to the Indiana economy.  Millions of dollars have been pouring in to current and new multinational automobile production facilities from manufacturers such as Honda, which invested $52 million in its Indiana factory in 2016 alone (Indianapolis Star, 2016); Subaru, which invested $540 million in its Indiana factory during the past four years (Auto News, 2015); and Toyota, which has invested more than $4 billion total in its Indiana facility (Toyota Pressroom, 2015).  In fact, the number of automobile-related industrial jobs in Indiana is an astounding 459% of the national average.  More than 500 automobile-related organizations operate in Indiana (IEDC Automotive Council, 2016), in addition to all the companies directly or indirectly affected by the automobile supply chain in the state.  Truly, the Hoosier economy’s health is especially affected by the global automobile industry.  Given the importance of this industry to Indiana’s economy, Purdue Polytechnic students have the best chance to leverage these opportunities as they shift into their careers.

The European Commission published a report in 2005 revealing that the EU is the world’s leading automotive manufacturing region, with more than 1/3 of all automobiles manufactured in the world within member countries (Economy Watch, 2010).  North Central Europe in particular is notable for its history of manufacturing and today is the epicenter of the European automobile production and supply chain for the continent.  Further, eight of the top twenty EU regions with the highest number of persons employed within the manufacturing sector in 2012 were in Germany (Economy Watch, 2010).  Germany’s influence in the global automobile industry is not relegated to the European market, as it boasts 110 companies operating in Indiana, with more than 12,000 employees (Indiana.gov, 2016).  Many of these companies are related to automobile supply-chains and all impact the Indiana economy.  The North Central region of the EU, including Germany, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands, mirrors Indiana’s geography in the US, because of its location and efficient access to markets and infrastructure, as well as being home to thriving multinational automobile organizations and their supply chains.

Another unique aspect of North Central Europe is its political history.  Central Europe has witnessed dramatic shifts in styles of governments in a relatively short amount of time, and those evolutions have had dramatic effects on every aspect of the lives of the region’s citizens.  The chaotic nature of the changes in governmental structures in this region over the past several generations has had a major influence on capitalism/trade and the automobile supply chain.  We will visit many significant sites in the four cities on the trip that will provide firsthand insight into the history of capitalism and trade in this region.


Of the 10 key elements of Purdue Polytechnic’s unique learning environment announced in 2015, five are strongly incorporated into this Study Abroad experience

  • Modernized teaching methods
  • Learning in context
  • Integrated humanities studies
  • Global/cultural immersions
  • Faculty-to-student mentorship

The following disciplines are areas taught in the Purdue Polytechnic by the host in face-to-face, distance, and graduate classes.  They will be examined on this trip, and information related to these areas of study will be integrated throughout.

  • Supply Chain Management
  • Micro/Macro Economics
  • Organizational Change
  • International Management
  • Quality Production
  • Global Marketing
  • Industrial Management
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Meeting Management

Purdue Polytechnic’s transformation of the undergraduate learning experience includes the “integration of topics and team teaching in the humanities that “enrich our students’ understanding of historical, contemporary and future technology in society” and the “integration of topics and team teaching in the humanities and other disciplines that foster critical thinking and logic”.  In fulfillment of these worthy aims, the 1) Cultural Excursions/Immersions and 2) Political History of Capitalism/Trade aspects of this program directly integrate those objectives.

Being able to respect other cultures even though you may not understand them completely is an important ingredient in success of international organizations.  Cultural awareness and global organizational success are directly linked, and the globalization of the Indiana automobile industry and its impact on the statewide economy necessitates the need for Hoosiers to respect and understand other cultures.  Firsthand experiences in adapting to other cultures will facilitate the success of future Indiana employees in today’s global economy, even if that person never again leaves the state of Indiana.

For instance, food and cuisine play a big role in organizational relationships.  As such, a key component of the cultural excursions will be tours and insight related to local food and regional cuisine.  The food of a region provides a link to history, culture, common bonds, and social relationships.  We will experience a variety of local foods through guided tours and restaurant-hopping journeys through the cities in which we will travel.

Students will also experience formal cultural events, including attending and dining at local Rotary International meetings.  Rotary International is a global service organization with more than 34,000 clubs worldwide intended to “provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world”.  Students will attend breakfast, lunch, or dinner meetings and dine and converse with Rotarians in the local community so that they may truly engage with others in their own natural environment and gain an enriched perspective of the local culture.  During this process, students will exchange official Indiana Rotary flags with local clubs, as the host has done in previous trips.  The preparation for these visits and the teaching of appropriate etiquette in advance will allow for much student-faculty mentorship and learning in context.  For instance, these meetings will highlight the need to learn a few words in the local language as a show of respect to the local culture.  It will also show students how to manage and lead a meeting because they will witness firsthand how the various Rotary meetings are conducted.

Another theme of this Study Abroad program is political history, political leadership, and their effect on capitalism/trade, with a specific focus on historical sites and governmental actions which have had major impacts on local economies and the local automobile supply chain.  There are many rich, significant sites in these cities that will give students firsthand insight related to the history of capitalism and trade in each city.

The past several generations have witnessed notable events and locales in which political events have shaped the destiny of capitalism.  Central Europe has witnessed dramatic shifts in styles of governments, and those evolutions have had dramatic effects on every aspect of the lives of the citizens.  For instance, the importance of basic port access and port control and their relation to economic viability will be highlighted because history has proven that the control of ports is of key importance in both wartime and peacetime.  Jurisdiction over the goods that go through ports during wartime dictates major military advantages, and efficient management over the operations of the port during peacetime dictates economic health and enhances local supply chains.

The trip will also be sponsored in part by a grant from the Terre Haute Human Relations Commission, in which the host serves as a Mayor-appointed Commissioner as well as the department secretary.  The TH HRC sponsored the host’s participation in a Humanities conference during his 2014 trip to Europe, as well as a tour of a German concentration camp for political prisoners during the 2016 trip.  After both experiences, the host reported back to the organization thereafter.  In addition, several trip excursions have been graciously financed by Purdue Polytechnic Anderson and Purdue Polytechnic Richmond.  Downtown Terre Haute Rotary International also sponsored an event.  Further, the host is appreciative of Purdue University’s Intercultural Pedagogy Grant and SAIL grant, which offsets the cost of the trip for students.

The trip will also provide material for the host’s ongoing international industry blog/journal (jimtanoos.wordpress.com), which is used for in-class instruction and to enhance Purdue Polytechnic students’ understanding of globalization.  The blog was created in 2014 by which he presented at seven different European conferences.  The blog contains descriptions of successful multinational production operations from each of the seven cities in which the host presented in 2014.  The blog continued in 2016 with experiences from four academic conferences in four European cities in which the host presented his new research.