Students participate in international negotiations

Brazilian Negotiation

Students enrolled in the Business Negotiations course included Richard Aaron Smith, Matt Steckel, Ian Pasko, Mitch Zook and Megan Jardine, left to right.

Credit: Penn State

WYOMISSING, Pa. — Penn State Berks students enrolled in the college’s Business Negotiations course had an opportunity to engage in a cross-cultural business negotiation exercise via videoconference with counterparts at the University of São Paulo earlier this month.

The opportunity came about when Malika Richards, professor of management at Penn State Berks, who teaches the course, met a colleague from the University of São Paulo at a professional conference and the collaboration was born. Richards explains that the University of São Paulo is the largest public university in Brazil and the country's most prestigious educational institution.

“One of the key cultural lessons learned was the difference between the U.S. and the Brazilian students' sensitivity to time,” said Richards.

Ian Pasko, a student in the Business Negotiations course, said that the experience provided valuable insight on international negotiation practices.

"They were very reluctant to make any concessions," Pasko said of his Brazilian counterparts. "It was not until we started to threaten the possibility of walking away that the Brazilian team started to make some concessions."

Richard Aaron Smith, another student in the course, commented about the experience, saying, “It provided me with a unique opportunity, and seeing the cultural differences in how they negotiate was very educational.”

In addition to Pakso and Smith, Berks students Megan Jardine, Matt Steckel and Mitch Zook were enrolled in the course and participated in the negotiations.