Developing an Innovative Teaching Concept: "Hidden Champions. Departure to Globalia"

Master's Thesis, 2015

140 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents

List of tables

Table of abbreviations

1 Introduction

2 Basis for developing the teaching concept
2.1 The millennial generation
2.2 Circumstances at the University
2.3 Innovative teaching tools for the teaching concept

3 Hidden Champions - Departure to Globalia
3.1 Content of the book
3.2 Adjustments for the lecture

4 Teaching concept
4.1 Introduction into the teaching concept
4.2 Teaching notes
4.3 Teaching tools and further recommendations

5 Conclusion

Table of annexes
Annex A
Annex B
Annex C
Annex D
Annex E


Declaration in lieu of oath

List of tables

Table 1: Connection between lecture and book content

Table of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Introduction

Ways of teaching are increasingly focused by universities and business schools. According to Bennis and O’Toole (2005), many business schools have reached a point where they need new ideas for their teaching processes. Many professors at universities search for the best way to reach their students and convey knowledge in the classroom. To reach this goal they experiment with new teaching tools, guest lectures, practical examples and many more ideas. According to Carusetta (2001), there are many different teaching awards to honor excellent teaching. As stated in an interview with Dr. R., professors are bestowed with the “Best Teacher Award” by students at the department of economics at the University. These awards show the relevance of excellent teaching at universities. In addition, students have high expectations of their education. According to interviews that were conducted within the context of this thesis, students want to know why they learn what they learn during business lectures. Due to these issues, innovative teaching concepts are increasingly required. It is important to develop concepts that help professors as well as students. For this reason an innovative teaching concept is developed.

An important problem connected with teaching today is that students tend to only focus on the final exam. When a professor is able to change the focus from the final exam to a constant focus throughout the whole semester, several learning improvements can be reached. Students would benefit in the final learning weeks due to less stress and professors would benefit from livelier and more active lectures. This is the innovative part of this concept, as many teaching concepts do not manage to motivate students throughout the whole semester. Other goals that help to reach the main goal are to provide students with some ideas how the gained knowledge is helpful in their later business life and make the lecture as lively as possible. Furthermore, a power point presentation helps to reach these goals. This presentation is the basis for a twelve session lecture program in which many teaching tools are included. These tools are essential for increasing the motivation of students. Most of the ideas for the concept are taken from interviews that were conducted with German professors and students. These ideas and goals of professors and the expectations of students are compared and reduced to the common denominator. Based on these results an innovative teaching concept is developed. Furthermore, literature research was conducted to find teaching tools that fit best into the concept. The literature findings are then enriched by the results of the interviews.

Contently this master thesis deals with Hidden Champions. Hidden Champions are extremely successful companies, which are mostly unknown by the general society. They distinguish themselves in many ways from successful big companies. The theoretical knowledge that is derived from their success can be transferred to many other economic situations. In addition, Hidden Champions have high practical relevance. An important source is the book “Hidden Champions - Departure to Globalia”, which has been written by the expert on Hidden Champions, Professor Hermann Simon. Simon is known for his high-quality work about Hidden Champions worldwide. He has published many books about these unknown successful companies and for each of these books the author has visited many of the Hidden Champions personally and has conducted interviews with their leaders. In his last book he analyzes Hidden Champions in much detail. He examines their core strengths and explains reasons for their success. Furthermore, he investigates their strengths in the context of the globalization. Simon describes a new world of the future called “Globalia” in which Hidden Champions have to remain successful. Hidden Champions and their strengths are the content of the lecture that is developed within this thesis.

The master thesis doesn’t include information about personal teaching styles, ways to hold a presentation or rhetorical skills. Moreover, it hasn’t been practiced yet. Professors especially benefit from the new insights that were generated in interviews with students. The thesis is divided into three main chapters. The first chapter provides a brief overview on the target group called the “Millennials”, which is a synonym for the current generation of students. The interviews with professors and students as well as their results are presented in the following part of the chapter. The next part describes teaching tools that are included to make the teaching concept more attractive. In addition, these tools help to reach the goals of it. The third chapter deals with the content of the book “Hidden Champions - Departure to Globalia”. There are given reasons that parts of the book have a larger share than others in the lecture. Furthermore, the importance of each section of the lecture is explained. The fourth chapter includes teaching notes for the power point presentation and each slide is described in detail. Moreover, there are recommendations that help to include the different teaching tools into the whole lecture the best way possible. The last chapter is essential for the learning goals because it discusses the core of the teaching concept. This part presents the answer to the question, how students are motivated throughout the whole semester. The thesis is completed with a conclusion that summarizes the most important learnings from the thesis and discusses future research.

2 Basis for developing the teaching concept

2.1 The millennial generation

According to Doyle et al., (2013), providing effective learning environments in business education is a timeless challenge and increasing motivation of students is part of this constant challenge. Before developing a teaching concept that overcomes these challenges, this chapter takes a brief look at the target group. In this case it is the audience of the lecture. According to Weissman (2009), it is important to know your audience well. In order to develop a good presentation it is essential to understand the audience’s point of view. The same applies for the teaching concept because it has the same target group. Furthermore, knowing your audience excellently is important for choosing the right teaching tools. According to Doyle et al., (2013), there are several discussions about the so called “millennial generation”. According to a study of Universum (2014), people born between 1984 and 1996 are part of the millennial generation. Other authors work with a different date of birth, e.g. 1982 and 2002 (McGlynn, 2008) or 1979 and 1994 (Sweeney, 2006). The differences connected with the date of birth depend on the authors. All in all, it is a wide age group. By this definition the “millennials” are the target group of this teaching concept.

In about ten years the millennial generation will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. Universum, Insead Emerging Market Institute and the Head Foundation asked 16.000 students in 42 countries about their attitudes and opinions in different topics in 2014. Besides others leadership, work-life balance and governmental influence were made subject of the study. The international study was carried out for employers to get a clearer picture of their target group and their possible future employees. Although the study was designed for the labor market, it provides information about the characteristics of members of the millennial generation worldwide. According to Doyle et al., (2013), it is essential to recognize important developments in the pedagogical environment. Changing characteristics of the target group is one important trend. It is meaningful to know characteristics of the millennial members in order to understand their motivations and expectations in the classroom. Important elements include their view on team work and their goals in business life. These characteristics are the basis for their educational expectations. This chapter points out important characteristics of millennial students to get a clearer picture of them, who they are and what they want. In the following, the five main characteristics based on literature research of the millennials are described.

Ambitious. The members of the millennial generation have great goals. Achieving a leadership role in their career is important for them. According to the study of Universum, nearly 70 percent of the surveyed participants see a leadership role as an attractive goal. The Europeans have the lowest share with 61 percent. Newton (2000) discusses the ambition of the millennial students, too. He carried out a study at the University of Kansas involving students and the faculty staff to get specific information about the characteristics of a millennial student. He figured out, that students have high expectations and goals for their career, although they often do not really know how to reach these goals. Furthermore, Sweeney (2006) describes the Millennials as very confident. He supposes that their parents treated them as something special and they got their confidence from their relationship to them. According to Elam et al., (2007), the ambitious character of Millennials leads to weaknesses. Due to their ambitious nature, Millennials have a shortcoming in self- reflection.

Optimistic. Millennials have an optimistic view of the future. The study of Universum (2014) points out, that only nine percent of the Millennials expect a worse lifestyle than their parents. Even in Western Europe only 17 percent say, that they don’t expect a better lifestyle than their parents. This was the highest worth of the study. Sax (2003) is working with the CIRP study, which takes a look at millennial students on national US level. The results show optimistic Millennials in college. They expect good marks and to leave college with honors. Furthermore, the work of Neil Howe and William Strauss is important when the millennial generation is discussed. In their book Millennials go to College from 2003, they describe them as optimistic persons with a “view of success”.

Team-oriented. Millennials know how to work in teams and the greater part of them enjoys it. According to Sweeney (2006), Millennials learn this ability e.g. in school, in sport or music events. Even if Millennials don’t like it, they do a good job in team- work if they benefit from it. Moreover, Howe and Strauss (2003) describe the Millennials as team-oriented. They are very interested in joining groups and building a peer network. Howe and Strauss figured out that team assignment, team teaching and team grading can play an important role in the education of the millennial students.

Independence. The study of Universum (2014) does away with the prejudice that Millennials involve their parents in their professional life very much. Only 26 percent of the surveyed asks their parents for important career advices. Especially in center and Eastern Europe millennial students reject this opportunity. According to the study, friends have no high influence on Millennials. Only 21 percent of millennial students admit that they ask friends for career decisions. Furthermore, parents are decreasingly involved into career decisions. In spite of this fact, they are still a key support in the Millennials life, but when it comes to important decisions Millennials tend to make them on their own.

Work-life balance. The balance between work and private life is essential for Millennials. The study of Universum (2014) yields clear results in this topic. Only 17 percent of the Millennials would not give up a well-paid job to get a better work-life Balance. The millennial generation cares more about work-life balance than money and status. Moreover, Sweeney (2006) comes to similar results. In the studies with focus groups in the United States he figures out that the Millennials don’t want to sacrifice their health for their job. High salaries are important for them, but not as important as a balanced life.

For developing a lecture it is important to know who is sitting in the classroom and how these students are taught the best way. Especially their characteristics and their values are important. Millennials stand out due to their individual characteristics. These five characteristics of Millennials help to get a first impression at the millennial generation. Of course these are general attributes and it is important to take a look at the specific circumstances in Germany, especially at the University. To get a clearer picture of the situation, interviews with students from Germany and with professors and staff from the University are carried out. The next chapter summarizes the results of the interviews and puts them in context of the lecture.

2.2 Circumstances at the University

At the beginning of this part a clear distinction between a teaching concept and the lecture has to be made. The teaching concept includes a power point presentation, teaching tools and other organizational tools like timetable etc. The term lecture refers to the twelve sessions in which the professor teaches the topic to his audience.

The teaching concept “Hidden Champions - Departure to Globalia” is developed for the MBA at the University. To get a clearer picture of the circumstances at the university and the type of teaching students and professors prefer, face-to-face interviews have been conducted. Master students from the universities were interviewed. The experiences they have made during their bachelor studies were discussed during the interviews, too. Furthermore, professors from different departments of the University were interviewed. In addition to this, an interview was conducted with the actual dean of the department of economics, Dr. R.All in all, this thesis brings together eleven interviews. The focus of the interviews with students lies on questions about education and the role of practices. The interviews with the professors take questions about teaching methods, guest lectures and development of lectures into account. The underlying motivation of the interviews is to figure out what educational preferences both groups have in common. All interviews have been conducted in a friendly atmosphere and mostly developed into open discussions about teaching. The questionnaires of the interviews are part of the appendix.

In the interview with Dr. R., it was figured out that nearly 100 students join the MBA at the University every year. The amount of that attend the lecture depends on the popularity of itself. The number of students sitting in the classroom is relevant for many areas like building cooperative learning groups and organizing classroom discussion. Due to the information resulted from this interview, the lecture is developed for an audience of minimum 100 students. This high number is justified by the popularity of the chair for strategic and international management. According to Dr. R., lectures at this chair are highly popular for students. For the selection of applicants of the MBA there is a setting procedure with focus on numerus clausus. In fact, master students of the University have made their Bachelor degrees over Germany. Moreover, the University is popular for the high amount of foreign students. Putting these facts in a nutshell, professors at this university have to face a heterogeneous group of students in their lectures. For designing their lecture professors don’t get any guidelines by the department of economics.

To generate new ideas for a teaching concept, the results of the interviews of professors and students have been compared. In addition to this, similar opinions and preferences have been worked out. According to results of the interviews rolled out with students, practical examples are an essential part of an interesting lecture. All interviewed students recommend to connect the theory with practical examples. It helps to hold their attention and makes the lecture more interesting. “Practical real life examples help me to understand why I need the theory,” a former 25 years-old master student says. “In an overly theoretical lecture the risk of playing scrabble with your neighbor is really high,” a master student from Leeds University confirms. Especially at the beginning of the lecture current examples are welcome. These examples are seen as a good start into a new session of the lecture. Nearly all students prefer guest lectures during the semester. Students recommend two things to integrate in the guest lectures on a high quality level into the teaching concept. On the one hand, it is important that the guest lecture is connected to the lecture itself and the latest part of it. There has to be a high reference to the topics of the last lecture sessions. On the other hand, students prefer successful people to hold guest lectures. ”When someone tells me something about business, I need to know that he has had success in his job. If I know he was successful I will respect him and I will listen,” a former master student from Leeds University mentions. Furthermore, quotes of successful people are welcome. In the view of interviewed students, quotes make the lecture livelier and more interesting. All in all, well integrated guest lectures make the general lecture more attractive for students.

Group discussions and other forms of interactions are recommended by the interviewed students. Lectures with practical parts are perceived as lively and exciting. Furthermore, judging is seen as an opportunity to increase motivation of students. In the views of the interview partners it is important to connect teaching tools with marks. “I only listen carefully, when I know I get marks for cooperation. Judgment of my presentations motivates me. These marked presentations are the ones I remember the best,“ a former MBA student states. Connection to practices is an important point for students. “Putting things into practices helps me enormous in understanding a theoretical topic,” a student from University Tübingen states. Nearly all students recommend to use videos during lectures. They help students to get more focused and reflect a greater variety of media in class. Moreover, the interviewed students recommend the formulation of clear goals at the beginning of the lecture. Furthermore, a summary of the discussed themes during the semester in one of the last sessions is recommended by students. It helps them to prepare better for the final exam. All in all, these are the aspects that the interviewed students all agree on.

All professors confirm the statement that there are heterogeneous groups of students at universities, which requires a teaching concept of high quality to teach them as good as possible. “In fact it is impossible to reach them all,” Professor C., head of the department of management and innovative concepts, says, “You have to find compromises.” All professors have different ideas and different styles in teaching. Despite this fact, all professors have one goal in common: To reach their students as much as possible and to convey their knowledge to them.

Especially at the beginning of the semester professors often have to repeat topics from the bachelor courses to guarantee that all students have a similar level of basic knowledge. Professor K., head of the department of microeconomics, has developed a short online test for all beginners of the MBA at the University that visit her lecture. With this test the professor identifies areas, in which students have a knowledge residue. After finishing the test the professor recommends literature to students. A case study is recommended by most professors that have been interviewed. This tool offers students the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge on real world problems. The interviewed professors often place case studies in the exercise part of their lectures because they take much time. Furthermore, all professors reach agreement on the point that classroom discussions are important to maintain the attention of the students for a lecture of 90 minutes. The interviewed professors use e.g. a teaching tool called Think-Pair and Share, open questions and discussions about current topics at the beginning of the lecture. Professor K. uses a tool called Etherpad in her lecture. By using this tool, students have the possibility to write into the same document at the same time. Meanwhile the writings are projected in front of the class. The tool is well accepted by students. “You may not exaggerate it with teaching methods and tools. They are important, but you have to look at your lecture time carefully,” Professor C. makes his point. Especially business management professors convey practical use of their lecture content. “At the latest in the second lecture I show students some professional fields, in which they can work after their studies,” Professor St., head of the department of Innovation management, says. Moreover, business management professors highly recommend the use of guest lectures. In this context Professor C. has developed a lecture series of guest lectures. The appropriate fit of guest lectures into the general lecture is important. Guest Lectures play a smaller role at lectures of political economics. The teaching in this area is more method-orientated.

To sum it up, the opinions of students and professors have many things in common. Both groups emphasize the high relevance of practical examples and guest lectures. The fit of guest lectures into the general lecture is essential to gather a great picture of the current topic. Moreover, students and professors agree in the point that the general lecture has to be lively in terms of class participation and group work. The key to a lively lecture is the participation of students. Therefore, the motivation of students throughout the whole semester is important. On the one hand, professors expect a high level of motivation from students. On the other hand, students need marks or other incentives to become participatory. The focus of students lies mostly at end of term, when exams are written. “I see the university as a competition and the only thing that matters is to be prepared for the final exams. You don’t have to be ready in first or second third of the semester. The last week are the ones that matter,” a master student from the University Mannheim says. This statement shows a problem of Professor H, head of the department for macroeconomics. The professor introduced face-to-face practices between students and tutors. These tutorials have been started at the beginning of the semester with the result that only few students have used this opportunity. This implicates that there is no need to discuss critical questions during the semester.

Professor K. uses two opportunities to limit this problem. First there are online tests during the semester. Students that perform well in these tests receive bonus points for the final exam. There is a high participation in these tests. Secondly, Professor K. takes advantage of her personal appeal: “When you talk directly to a student it can motivate him and you need less judging for increasing his motivation.”

To put things in a nutshell, the most important point for improving teaching concepts of today is increasing motivation of students throughout the whole semester. Due to this fact, the goal of this thesis is to develop a teaching concept which increases engagement and motivation of students throughout the whole semester. On the one hand, there are possible improvements like continuous learning and smaller expense at the end of term for students. On the other hand, the lecture becomes easier and livelier for professors. The importance of revealing practical relevance and showing practical examples during the lecture is another meaningful result of the interviews. Both educational tools are required by students and that is why they are included into the developed teaching concept. All in all, the interviews contribute essential points for the development of the teaching concept. The following chapter deals with teaching tools that are included into the lecture.

2.3 Innovative teaching tools for the teaching concept

Chapter 2.2 deals with student’s expectation of a well-designed teaching concept. Furthermore, that chapter has added information about the professor’s view on teaching and education at universities. As a next step, teaching methods and tools are discussed. The results of the interviews and literature research provide the basis for the selection of these tools. According to Auster and Wiley (2006), a good atmosphere in the classroom is essential for open discussions. This atmosphere is essential for most of the explained teaching tools in this chapter. In my opinion this is the case in the MBA at the University. Moreover, Professor K. confirms this statement. In her experience students in the MBA aren’t shy anymore, based on participation in the classroom. In the following section the included teaching tools of the lecture are briefly explained.

Case study. According to Naumes and Naumes (2012), a case study is a practical description of events that have happened in the past. Case studies don’t include fictional stories. In agreement with Stephen Buckles (1998), a case study is a versatile teaching technique and it helps to increase motivation of students. Furthermore, important principles are reviewed and critical thinking is developed. Primarily, case studies are intended as teaching tools that provide students a realistic look at the economic world and offer an opportunity to practice skills in an environment with few consequences (Naumes and Naumes, 2012).

A case study has to be based on concrete facts. With the help of a case study students learn to think, plan and reason. It offers students an active role in their education and by working with it, their judgment and human dimension skills can be stretched. Moreover Arndt (2013), describes the case study as an important teaching tool, too. He points out a set of rules for the use of a case study. The described problem has to fit into the context of the lecture. In addition to this, a case study has to offer enough information to students to find solutions for the described problems. Furthermore, there have to be different possible solutions and a case study has to be as authentic as possible. In his view a case study offers many learning improvements like developing problem-solving skills and high practical relevance. The only mentionable disadvantage is its high time expenses. Based on the results of the interviews discussed in chapter 2.2, nearly all students and all professors have a positive view on case studies. According to the time-disadvantage Stephen Buckles (1998) says: “They are worth trying”. Due to these facts, there are two case studies included into the lecture. Important aspects about content and structure of the case studies are discussed in chapter 4.

Think-Pair and Share tool. The Think-Pair and Share tool is a cooperative learning technique. According to McTighe and Lyman (1988), Think-Pair and Share consists of three parts. In the first part the professor directs a question to the audience. Next, students have to think individually about their answers. In the second part students pair with their seat neighbor to discuss their ideas. During the third part the formed groups share their results with the audience. According to McTighe and Lyman (1988), cooperative learning tools like Think-Pair and Share create a responsive thinking in the classroom. The use of Think-Pair and Share provides and aid to memory, a common frame for reference, an incentive to act and permanence. According to Bartlett (2006), the use of Think-Pair and Share leads to a deeper understanding of recently discussed material. In addition to this, Johnson and Johnson (1999) have figured out many benefits from cooperative learning. In a well- structured cooperative learning process, learning and social competencies are maximized. According to Bonwell (1996), learning improvements of involving many students in the discussion, the minimalized embarrassing for each student and opportunities to meet other students are results of Think-Pair and Share. Besides that, Professor C. from the University is using this teaching tool in his actual lecture: “It helps students to become more active because they now have a partner who backs them up. It has positive benefits for my lecture.” Nearly all interviewed students have a positive view on cooperative learning and enjoy working with a partner. Due to that, Think-Pair and Share is chosen as one of the teaching tools that are included into the lecture. Time points at which Think-Pair and Share is used are discussed in chapter 4. Furthermore, facts about the context the tool is placed are mentioned.

Guest lecture. Nearly every interviewed person has a positive view on guest lectures. Guest lectures have many benefits. They offer a great view on practices. Furthermore, students learn a lot from an orator with much practical experience. This practical experience of the guest orator contributes something to the importance of each guest lecture. The general part of the lecture doesn’t convey knowledge about practical experience. Students express two concerns about guest lectures. First of all, guest lectures often seem torn out of the lecture. It is the task of the professors to embed them as good as possible in the overall concept of the lecture. Ideally, there is a connection to the theory discussed in one of the last sessions. Secondly guest lectures often develop into recruiting events for the guest orators and their companies. “We can’t make too many claims to the companies that send us a guest orator. They sacrifice work time to come to our university and get no monetary amount in exchange. So we can’t prohibit them to talk about their company,” Professor St., from the University says, “Especially the first time you invite someone it is a bit of a shot in the dark.” Due to these facts, professors only have a small influence on the second concern. Nevertheless guest lectures are part of the teaching concept. Nearly all interview partners have mentioned them in a positive way. With their high practical relevance, guest lectures contribute a lot to reach the learning goals. They show the impact of theoretical knowledge for practice. The teaching concept includes two guest lectures. Facts about the content and the integration of guest lectures into the overall concept of the lecture are discussed in chapter 4.

One-Minute paper. According to Panitz and Panitz (1999), One-Minute papers are completed by students at the end of each session of the lecture. To complete this task, students have to answer two questions. First they have to write down the most significant thing they have learned during the actual session. Secondly, they have to write down questions that are still open. Modifications of these two questions are possible. Despite this fact, both of these questions are used in this lecture. They help students to reflect their own learning. One-Minute papers offer some learning improvements to students. In line with Panitz and Panitz (1999) is the possibility for students is to summarize and synthesize concepts of the lecture sessions in their own words. Students identify areas where they have weaknesses. Based on this self-reflection, students can further study, review and focus on the most important ideas of the lecture. In my experience I have collected as a student, writing down significant learnings can be helpful. It is important for understanding the practical relevance of theoretical topics. Moreover, this teaching tool provides advantages for professors. It offers determination of understanding students and new ideas for improving the lecture. Furthermore, professors get to know their students better. According to Bressoud (1999), One-Minute papers have the nice side effect of increasing the class attendance. Moreover, Professor C. of the University works with answering open questions at the beginning of his lecture: “Often I answer some open questions at the beginning of my lecture. I have received them per email or through other channels. These questions help me to see where students have a lack of understanding.” In Chapter 2.1 it is shown that Millennials tend to have a lack of self-reflection and One-Minute papers help to improve this ability.

Unserious answers by students are one of the risks of One-Minute papers. This issue disappears when students realize how much they benefit from answers of the professor at the beginning of the next lecture. These findings are also examined by Panitz and Panitz (1999). Another risk involved is the loss of time due to the implementation of One-Minute papers requires about five minutes at the beginning of the lecture session and five minutes at the end of each session. In addition to this, the professor needs co-workers that help him to work through the results and summarize them. To sum it up, the benefits exceed the risks and because of that One-Minute papers are part of this lecture. Although One-Minute papers were only mentioned once during the interviews they are part of this teaching concept due to the several teaching advantages.

Quiz. According to Lee and Hammer (2011), games and quizzes have a positive effect on student’s learning. At the University quizzes are only used in one economical lecture. Professor K. uses them in different ways and has made positive experiences with using them. The interviewed students have not made many experiences with quizzes. According to Padilla-Walker (2006), daily quizzes in lectures have remarkable positive effects. She carried out a study in a college course in psychology at a Midwestern state university. The daily quizzes encourage students to read the course material and be up to date with the course content. The motivation of students was aroused by extra credits for the final exam. The interviews conducted with German students and professors show similar results. The importance of judging influences the design of the quiz. The design is discussed in chapter 4. According to the study of Wilder et al. (2001), quizzes help to enforce student attendance at the course. The authors carried out a study at a college course at Western United States. The results show that students achieve better marks in final exams when quizzes are involved in the lecture beforehand. Moreover, Kibble (2007) found out that quizzes have a positive impact on the performance of students in final exams. He puts forward online quizzes at the St. Georges University. His quizzes were supported by a campus-wide management system. His results show that incentives are important to make students participate in a quiz. Furthermore, many of his participants “cheated” and performed in the quizzes way better, than in final exams. According to him, minimizing the cheating behavior is a challenge. All these studies show the positive impact quizzes have on learning success of students at universities.

Another interesting factor is the comparison of pencil-paper quizzes and online quizzes. According to DeSouza and Fleming (2003), online quizzes have a stronger positive influence on the final exams, than pencil-paper quizzes. Pawelka et al., (2014) developed a quiz to prepare students for the final exam and keep their motivation on a high level throughout the semester. They took the popular smartphone app Quizduell as basis for their quiz. According to Dolata and Schrappe (2014), this app is really popular in Germany and has more than ten million users. With this basis Pawelka et al., (2014) developed a quiz in which students can compare and duel themselves with others graduates. The positive effect of social interaction in an e-learning environment was also supported by Johnson et al., (2007). The focus of Pawelka et al., (2014) lies on the competition component of the quiz. Their sample was too small to derive implications, but in my opinion a quiz with competition is a promising approach. The popularity of the famous smartphone app Quizduell underlines this fact. Professor K. has made good experience with using quizzes in her lecture concepts. “Quizzes are adopted and there is a great participation by students,” she states. When they do well in the quizzes, students have benefits in the final exam. Moreover, they have to do quizzes to get access to the content of the next session of the lecture.

The studies have shown that quizzes are a very good measure to increase the motivation of students. Due to this fact, a quiz that is linked with the lecture content is part of this teaching concept. The quiz has a share at the finale mark of students. Due to its relevance for final exam, the participation at the quiz is increased. Competitive elements are included, too. Details about the content and the integration of the quiz are discussed in chapter 4.

This chapter discusses teaching tools that are included into the teaching concept. Due to the limited time, there are only five tools involved into the lecture. The next chapter discusses information about the content of the lecture. The lecture deals with Hidden Champions and is based on the book of Hermann Simon “Hidden Champions Departure to Globalia” from 2012. Together with the teaching tools this book provides the basis for the lecture.

3 Hidden Champions - Departure to Globalia

3.1 Content of the book

The content of the lecture is based on the work of Professor Hermann Simon, who is an expert on Hidden Champions. In 2012 he published his book “Hidden Champions - Departure to Globalia”, which is the basis for the lecture. The book covers two main topics: Business areas of Hidden Champions with a high level of competence and a new world of the future called “Globalia”. Competencies of Hidden Champions are described in much detail. Simon focuses on how Hidden Champions distinguish from bigger companies and why they have huge success. Moreover, the author figures out how Hidden Champions can remain their success in Globalia.

At the beginning of his book, Simon takes a look at the world of the future. In this new networked and flat world, companies have to adjust their strategies to become or remain successful. He calls this new world Globalia because in his opinion globalization will be the most important economic topic during the next decades. China will become the third economic hub besides USA and Europe in Globalia. In addition to this, there will be high economic growth world-wide, but especially in China and India. After giving an introduction into Globalia and setting the criteria, Simon writes about the competencies of Hidden Champions.

Hidden Champions have to fulfill three criteria: Top three position in world market or number one on its continent depending on market share, turnover under five billion euro and mostly unknown by the general society. There are 14 chapters and each one points out one specific competence that makes Hidden Champions successful and special. Each of the chapters describes a unique way Hidden Champions handle important business areas. For example, Simon deals with the special connections Hidden Champions have with their customers, the management style of their leaders or their special innovation strategies. With 14 chapters about areas with a high level of competence, Hidden Champions are analyzed in much detail. Each of these chapters considers the role Hidden Champions have in Globalia. All described competencies are considering the background of the challenges Globalia sets for Hidden Champions. In Simon’s view Hidden Champions have the basis and the skills to protect their success in Globalia. With 17 chapters the book contains comprehensive content about Hidden Champions. To ensure a successful representation of the book during the lecture there have to be made reasonable adjustments. These adjustments are discussed in the next part of this chapter.

3.2 Adjustments for the lecture

A goal of the lecture is to give MBA students at the University an overview about the unique way Hidden Champions do business. Furthermore, the focus lies on the application of this knowledge to the own business life of students. In contrast to other theoretical topics, Hidden Champions are practical cases. Economic theories and practical expertise can be directly deducted from the work of Hidden Champions.

The lecture is divided into six sections: Globalia, gain and enforce competitive advantage, innovation power, realize customer proximity, unique leadership, Globalia and internationalization. Each of these sections contains several content inputs about Hidden Champions derived from the book of Simon (2012). Nearly every chapter of his book has a share at the lecture. The following table shows the connection between the lecture and the book content. There is shown which sections of the lecture include elements from which chapters of Simon’s book.

Table 1: Connection between lecture and book content

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Simon’s book offers a detailed analysis of Hidden Champions. Therefore, parts of the book can’t be discussed in the lecture. It is a critical question, which parts of the book have to be cut out due to the relevance of each chapter. There is no question that it has to be cut short because there are only 18 hours of lecture to prepare. There is no time to deal with the content of the whole book in 18 hours of lecture. The selection of the content has taken statements of the author into account. Simon often uses exaggerations, which are a sign for importance of the chapter and covered competence. For example he describes customer proximity as “the biggest strength of the Hidden Champions”. Furthermore, the length of each chapter is a sign for its importance. Of course the three biggest chapters innovate persistently, enforce competitive advantages and effective leading have a great share in the lecture. Furthermore, the focus lies on the abilities in which the Hidden Champions distinguish the most from other companies. In my opinion these are the most crucial ones. The underlying effect Globalia has on the Hidden Champions is mentioned in the lecture due to its continuous relevance in the book. The only chapters of the book of Simon that have no share of the lecture are the ones about financing and excellence. The chapter about financing is cut off because it is short and Hidden Champions don’t distinguish that much from bigger companies in this business area. The chapter about excellence is cut off due to the lack of time. All other chapters have at least a small share at the lecture.

Hermann Simon has written an extensive book about Hidden Champions. This chapter has briefly summarized the content of the book. In addition to this, it is justified, which parts of the book content have the largest share at the lecture. In the following chapter, the power point presentation of the lecture is described. Furthermore, all teaching tools that are included in the concept are discussed. Topics of chapter 3 are discussed more deeply in the teaching notes of the power point presentation.

4 Teaching concept

4.1 Introduction into the teaching concept

Based on analyzes in the chapters before a power point presentation is developed. This presentation is a core part of the whole teaching concept due to its relevance in the classroom. It is designed for 18 hours of lecture and deals with Hidden Champions. Furthermore, teaching notes for the power point presentation are discussed in this chapter. The focus lies on explaining the background of the included slides to the presenter. In addition to this, justifications why these slides are part of the presentation are discussed and the content of each slide is described in detail. Moreover, the operational time of the chosen teaching tools is shown and the tools are linked with the content. In addition to this, the teaching tools and other linked instruments e.g. the timetable and a process map are discussed in chapter 4.3.

According to Weissman (2009), a presentation leads its audience from point A to point B. Point B is the main purpose of a presentation. After listening to this lecture students understand why Hidden Champions are as successful as they are. They acquire knowledge about the competencies that distinguish Hidden Champions from other bigger companies. It is important to understand that Hidden Champions have business areas with a high level of competence and how these competencies help the companies to remain their success in the future. This knowledge is conveyed during the lecture. Furthermore, students learn facts about the worldwide economic future. The new economic world of the future is called Globalia during the presentation, this term is adopted by Simon (2012). In addition to this, parts of the presentation show students how this unique knowledge about Hidden Champions is applicable to their own later business careers. This connection to practice is seen as important by any student that was interviewed within the context of the thesis. All these points set up point B of this presentation. The style of the presentation is based on the principles of Jerry Weissmann and his book “Presenting to win” from 2009. The presentation follows his Less is more principle that claims that slides have to be as vacant as possible. There is a maximum of four bullets points on each slide and only three colors are used throughout the whole presentation. Moreover, there are many boxes, graphics and pictures on the slides. An exception of the Less is more principle is always explained in the teaching notes.

The power point presentation serves as support for the presenter. At many points of the lecture the presenter has to add facts orally, e.g. underlying theories behind practical examples. Theories like that or other facts linked with the slides are explained in the following teaching notes.

4.2 Teaching notes

Slide 1 to 9 - Introduction

The previous chapters have pointed out what German students expect from a well-structured lecture. It is important for them to know what advantages are offered by learning the content of the lecture already during the semester and not only in the end of term. The introduction of the lecture provides the basis for reaching this educational goal. The first slide with content follows after the cover sheet with common information about the lecture and the chair. On slide number two and three an overview of the lecture sessions is shown. The slides include a timetable for the whole semester. On slide number four the focus lies on the Hidden Champions for the first time during the lecture. The main question is shown in a box on the slide:

Who are these companies and what are their products? The presenter asks this question to the audience to catch their interest directly in the beginning. According to Weissmann (2009), starting a presentation with a question is an interesting way to capture the interest of the audience. The three Hidden Champions are chosen randomly from the book of Hermann Simon (2012). The presenter shows the slide without the answers on the right side at first. A short discussion about Hidden Champions is started with this slide. This slide is an example for the usage of the Less is more principle of Weissmann (2009), due to this principle there are only three Hidden Champions shown on this slide. Moreover, the Less is more principle is applied in the action titles and they are one sentence long. The content of those titles is a summary of the slide in one sentence and is formulated in an interesting catching way. The subtitle goes a step further and gives additional information to the viewer. This is common sense in newspapers and helps to enlarge the attention of the viewer. The main purpose of the subtitle is to hold the interest of the viewer. Furthermore, boxes often times are used during this presentation. This makes the presentation more viewable for the audience. Boxes are shown on the next slide, which discusses the definition of Hidden Champions. For students it is important to know what exactly is meant by the term Hidden Champion. That is why this definition is placed at the beginning of the lecture. The definition is directly taken from the book of Simon (2012). The presenter creates a link between the two slides and links the examples with the criteria. An important point is that all three criteria have to be fulfilled. On slide number six, learning goals of the lecture are shown. According to Weissman (2009), creating a connection to point B is an excellent start into a presentation. The learning goals of the semester are the point B of this presentation. Moreover, students that were interviewed for this thesis mention the importance of showing the learning goals at the beginning of the lecture. Three of them are directly linked to the book of Simon (2012). The principles of Hidden Champions, their success and the new world Globalia are core topics in his book. The fourth goal is developed out of the conducted interviews. For students it is important to know that there is a connection between the lecture content and practice. Due to these results, there has been developed the fourth goal: How this knowledge can help you in your own business life.

On the seventh slide three book recommendations for the lecture are shown. Book recommendations are an excellent idea due to the possibility for students to go deeper into the topic by themselves. There is shown one book of Hermann Simon on the slide. His book is a clear choice for a book recommendation due to his popularity as author about Hidden Champions. His work is the basis for the main parts of the lecture. The second book on the slide is a historical book with biographic elements. It was written by Ute Grau and Barbara Guttmann in 2005. They illustrate the history of the Würth Group and the life of the famous entrepreneur Reinhold Würth. The Würth Group is an excellent example for a Hidden Champion becoming a Big Champion and Reinhold Würth is an appropriate example for a leader of a Hidden Champion. The whole book is a practical success story with many examples that are applicable on each section of the lecture. The third book is a diploma-thesis of Dominik Roth from 2009. Roth writes about Hidden Champions and his book offers the opportunity to get a fast entrance into the topic. Due to this fact, it is chosen as third book recommendation.

On the next slide three central themes of the lecture are shown: Sales and marketing, leadership and innovation. The students acquire knowledge how the content of the lecture is applicable on their later business careers. The interviews in chapter 2 have shown the importance of these learnings. Furthermore, Taylor (2010) recommends helping students to identify the use of the lecture content. To give some ideas on this topic directly from the beginning this slide is added to the lecture. The linkages of different job areas with content of the lecture are included due to their positive effect on motivation of students. Furthermore, Hidden Champions inspire students to make themselves independent. Successful ways of handling a start-up business or companies in general are derived from knowledge about Hidden Champions. Slide number nine links the content of the lecture with this fact. To sum it up, these two slides help students to look at this lecture with their own business careers and goals in mind. After this introduction part the first section about Globalia follows.

Slide 10 to 18 - Globalia section

After introducing the learning goals of the semester, the section about Globalia starts. This section describes the new world of the future in which Hidden Champions have to remain their success. This part of the lecture contains information of the first two chapters of the book of Simon (2012). In order to create an understanding for the new world of the future in student’s mind this section is integrated in the lecture. This is one of the four learning goals of the lecture and due to this fact this section has a reasonable share at it. According to Weissman (2009), a picture is worth thousand words and this way the usage of pictures serves the Less is more principle by itself. There are included as many pictures in this presentation as possible and due to that a world map is chosen to introduce Globalia the first time to the audience. On the world map the biggest economic hubs in 2025 are shown with red circles. The higher the expected GDP, the wider are the circles. Therefore, it is easy for students to realize which countries and continents are important for Globalia. On the next slide the description of Globalia continues and important developments in the new world are shown in boxes. A learning goal of the lecture is to convey knowledge about the ways Hidden Champions become and remain successful and especially how they remain their success in Globalia. Due to that, it is essential for students to know, which circumstances prevail in this new world. The slide adds new information, e.g. the high population growth in Africa or the growing influence of the ASEAN states, Brazil and Russia. The globalization is placed in the center of the slide because according to Simon (2012) it will be the strongest growth driver in the next decades. The next slide contains a graphic about the GDP growth between 2010 and 2025 and focuses on the role of China as third economic hub in 2025. With this graphic students easily understand how close China comes to Europe and the USA in 2025 depending on GDP. Furthermore, this slide helps students to realize that China has the biggest total economic growth of all countries. Moreover, the important role China plays in Globalia is anchored in the mind of students the first time.

On slide number twelve the flag of China is shown such as factors that make this country economically attractive. The next three slides have a similar structure and make India, the continent Africa and Germany a subject. In terms of Germany it is less a look in the future, but rather a snapshot. At this time of the lecture the presenter starts the first Think-Pair and Share group work. He splits up the audience in four parts. Each part of the audience receives a text about one country respectively continent. In between these parts, students build groups of two. Within these groups students read and discuss the texts. The text has to contain information about the development of the countries respectively continents in the next decade and the current situation in Germany. Extracts from the book of Simon (2012) or reports like World order in 2050 or Economic outlook 2012 are suitable examples. After a work time students present their results to the class in form of a short discussion like it is described in chapter 2 under Think-Pair and Share. The slides here fall out of the grid of the presentation and contradict the Less is more principle with many bullet points. This is the case because they serve another purpose. Normally the presentation supports the presenter and is as attractive as possible to the audience. In this case the four slides summarize the results of the group work as good as possible. It is important that nearly all possible solutions pulled out from the handed texts are shown on the slide. The book of Simon (2012) and the named reports are used as sources for the four slides in the lecture. The advantages of Think-Pair and Share are discussed in chapter 2 and are exploited here. Contently this part helps students to become more aware of Globalia and the developments of the future. Differences between China and India and the potential of Africa are understood more deeply. The discussion closes with the role of Germany due to the fact that Germany is the home country of most Hidden Champions of the world and thus the starting point for their globalization. The presenter creates a reconciliation from the end of the discussion to slide number 17. The action title of this slide is: Hidden Champions have to conquer Globalia. This slide summarizes the challenges Hidden Champions have to face in Globalia and serves as a reconciliation to the next section. For students it is important to gain knowledge about the challenges Globalia sets because Hidden Champions are affected by them. These challenges are described and discussed in a later section again. At that later point of the lecture students have more knowledge about Hidden Champions and their areas with a high level of competence. On the last slide of the section is shown a video of Professor Hermann Simon describing Globalia and the circumstances of the world of the future. The video serves as a summary of the section and adds new points, e.g. the linkage of Germany and Hidden Champions is discussed. Furthermore, it serves as a reconciliation to the following section. Videos are a lively element and students describe them as a good opportunity to integrate them in a lecture.

This section has shown how the economic future will look like and which factors are especially important for Hidden Champions. All in all, students have got a first impression of Globalia and relevant developments within it. The following section focuses on the first area of Hidden Champions with a high level of competence and discusses different ways Hidden Champions gain and enforce competitive advantage.

Slide 19 to 36 - Gain and enforce competitive advantage section

Slide number 19 shows four areas that Hidden Champions have a high level of competence in. The section headings are gain and enforce competitive advantage, innovation power, realize customer proximity and unique leadership. The slide serves as table of contents of the presentation and is repeated four times and the current section is always colored dark blue. This section starts with a video from Professor Hermann Simon. According to Tesar et al. (2013), videos have a high respect to reality and supplement the presentation in an interesting way. During this video, Simon calls Hidden Champions the vanguard of Globalia. He discusses Hidden Champions and points out why they are important and successful. This video supports the start into the section and gives students a short overview over the following topics. The main goal of this video is to strengthen the fact that Hidden Champions are successful and have high level of competence in different business areas. The video serves this purpose well.

There are four important factors to gain and enforce competitive advantage. These are focus, deepness, vision and continuous growth. On slide number 21 these factors are shown in circles. Market leadership is an important goal of Hidden Champions and this goal is reached through perfectness in each of these four areas.

The presenter uses this slide to introduce each factor shortly, due to the fact that each of them is discussed in detail later in this section.

According to Simon (2012), there is a big disbelief of managers of our time: Big market share always leads to big profit. Simon denotes this statement as wrong because in his belief it exist good and bad market share. Hidden Champions earn a lot of the good one, which leads to their great success. According to Simon et al., (2006), the rigid thinking about the importance of market share leads to a culture of aggression and compliance within the company. Profit is the most important criteria companies have to focus on to become financially successful. To demonstrate these facts to students there is a quote from the well-known manager Jack Welch on the upper part of the slide. This quote shows, which place value market share has in the mind of an important manager. At this point of the lecture, the next Think-Pair and Share instrument is placed. The presenter gives students time to discuss about market share. Topics of the discussions are on the one hand, which factors determine good market share and on the other hand, which type of market share is bad. At the end of the plenum discussion he fades in the conclusion of the slide, which states the existence of good and bad market share. The next slide hooks up with the one before and the value of market share is described with direct reference to Hidden Champions. One core competence of these companies is earning good market share. On the slide itself the difference between good and bad market share is shown such as the consequences of both types. It serves as a conclusion for the slide before and helps understanding the underlying theory. Slide number 24 focuses on the structure of Hidden Champions and is enriched with a quote of Pulitzer Prize winner Alfred Chandler. In his opinion the structure of a company follows its strategy. This quote is directly applied to Hidden Champions, which are mostly one product-one market companies. There can be found many examples for this fact in the book of Simon (2012) e.g. Flexi, Multivac or Gottschalk. The advantages of this form lies in its easiness and quickness. One secret of Hidden Champions connected with this topic lies in the multifunctionality of their employees. Often they are educated for different tasks and are versatile employable.

Hidden Champions have to face challenges, when they enter new markets. According to Simon (2012), they often switch their organizational structure to a divisional one with focus on different target groups. With this structure it is easier to react on the requirements of these target groups. Simon calls it “soft divisionalisation”. On slide number 24 both organizational structures are shown. The divisional one is based with the example Semperit, a company that produces gum products and is world market leader with a divisional strategy. Practical examples are highly recommended by interviewed students, due to this fact they are used as often as possible during this lecture. On this slide students learn why Hidden Champions use different organizational strategies and for which reasons they decide to switch. Furthermore, the presenter points out the role of Globalia for the structure of the Hidden Champions. Quotes from leaders of Hidden Champions and statements from the companies themselves are shown on the next slide. All quotes are included to base the assumption that Hidden Champions are specialists in their work. According to Simon (2012), focus and concentration are two core leitmotifs of Hidden Champions and from this inner thinking results a high continuity. By including these quotes the message of the slide becomes livelier for the audience.

Slide number 26 discusses the strategy of M+C Schiffer. Schiffer is the biggest independent producer of teeth brushes worldwide and focuses only on one stage of value creation. Due to its great success, the company is an excellent example to show the importance of focus. The pictures on the slide show the product of the company, its stage of value creation and the world leadership position of M+C Schiffer, which is a result of its strategy. This slide deals with the fact that Hidden Champions use focus strategies and are successful with them. The next slide focuses on the risks of strategies like this and a matrix is included to demonstrate market risk and competitive risk. Due to their focus strategy, Hidden Champions have to face high market risks. An important message of the slide is that Hidden Champions are aware of these risks and take the strategy anyway. They have to choose between diversification and focus and take the latter. The message is encouraged by a quote of an unknown leader of a Hidden Champion in the upper left.


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Developing an Innovative Teaching Concept: "Hidden Champions. Departure to Globalia"
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Hidden, Champions, Teaching, Concept, Innovative, Teaching Methods, Power Point, Globalia, Millenial, Quiz, Case Study, Think Pair and Share
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Roman Horschig (Author), 2015, Developing an Innovative Teaching Concept: "Hidden Champions. Departure to Globalia", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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