Alexander Mohr is professor of “Export Management and Internationalization Processes” at the Department of Global Business and Trade. In addition to his subject-related research with an international focus, Mr. Mohr also explores intercultural learning contexts, such as the relationship between cultural background and learning style preferences. In this interview, he shares his experiences with international teaching and learning and reveals what he particularly enjoys about teaching.
What distinguishes your teaching?
In most of my courses, I work with partners from the industry to allow for directly linking the students’ learning experience with managerial practice. For example, in one real-life case study, we work with managers of a US pharmaceutical company. Students have the chance to analyse and discuss the global launch of an actual drug with the company. I believe such collaboration is crucial to ensure that students leave WU with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their jobs.
In general, I am very keen on sharing my passion for my subject area and increasing learners’ intrinsic interest in it. I found that the best way to do this is to create an informal and highly interactive environment. This encourages students to engage with the subject matter extensively and critically.
What do you particularly enjoy about teaching?
The best thing about teaching is the intellectual stimulation through interacting with highly motivated students. Teaching is a fantastic opportunity not only to question and improve my understanding of the subject matter. It also helps to identify new puzzles and ideas for research. Many of my research projects have developed out of discussions with students. I also enjoy interacting with students from different cultural backgrounds. I feel proud and accomplished when I see students excel in their studies.
You work with international students in your courses. What has proven successful and what were the didactic challenges?
We have a high share of non-Austrian students in most of our courses, and we run collaborative courses with partner universities in Rome, Sofia, and Madrid. Given the increasing diversity of learners in terms of cultural or professional background, I have developed an interest in the diversity of learning styles. We analyzed the effect of cultural background on learning style preferences and found that the way Austrian students prefer to learn differs markedly from how, say, Chinese students do. Considering these differences in learning style preferences when designing a course is challenging. However, I found that both my awareness of these differences as well as explicitly making students aware of these differences already go a long way in dealing with this challenge.
Do you have any tips for a successful (international) course?
- Try to cooperate with/involve industry to connect student learning to practice.
- Be aware of differences in learning style preferences among participants and adjust your teaching design accordingly.
- Emphasise personal interaction with/among students.
 Holtbrügge, Dirk, and Mohr, Alexander Toni. 2010. 'Cultural determinants of learning style preferences', Academy of Management Learning & Education, 9: 622-37.