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International Leadership and Organizational Behavior

Università Bocconi via Coursera


Leaders in business and non-profit organizations increasingly work across national borders and in multi-cultural environments. You may work regularly with customers or suppliers abroad, or be part of a globally dispersed cross-functional team, or an expatriate manager on an international assignment. You may be a member of a global online community, or a development aid worker collaborating with an international network of partner organizations. In all of these contexts, your effectiveness as a leader depends on how well you understand and are able to manage individual and collective behaviors in an intercultural context.

In this course – together with a team of Bocconi expert faculty and Bocconi alumni – we’ll explore the theory and practice of international and intercultural leadership and organizational behavior. Social science research has revealed systematic ways in which our behavior differs across cultural contexts – enabling us to more effectively work across borders. Insights from psychology, neuroscience, sociology and anthropology, from communication studies and from management scholarship allow us to understand what shapes individual and group decision making, what enhances or weakens team performance, and how we can build and use our social networks. And the shared practical experience of international leaders allows us to identify concrete steps to enhancing intercultural leadership competence, and to be cognizant of common leadership challenges.

Learning about organizational behavior provides a great opportunity to develop your leadership skills and to reflect on your own behavioral tendencies. How do you usually make important decisions? What motivates you and how do you try motivating others? How successfully do you leverage and integrate diverse skills and views in a team? Do you prefer professional relationships with a close-knit group of trusted colleagues, or with a far-flung network of acquaintances from all walks of life?

If you really want to learn how organizations behave and take decisions and at the same time develop leadership skills, then this is the course for you.

We are looking forward to welcoming you and supporting you on this journey of learning and discovery.

Week 1 - Leadership Acumen. International perspective on leadership, common traps & challenges, and opportunities of intercultural leadership.
Week 2 - Navigating Culture. Impact of cultural differences on organizations, decoding culture, culture classifications and stereotyping, developing intercultural intelligence.
Week 3 - Communication. Communication and its impact on leadership identity and relationships, managing communication to improve decision making, steps for developing your intercultural communication skills.
Week 4 - Motivation. Views on individual motivation, cultural differences in motivation, developing motivation and commitment in teams.
Week 5 - Networking. Patterns of interpersonal relationships in/across organizations, strategically developing social networks and social capital, norms for networking across cultures.
Week 6 - Conflict. Effective / defective conflict management approaches, dealing with ethical dilemmas.

Thanks to the participation of our alumni and of the Bocconi Alumni Association, participants will have practical insights on international leadership.

All are welcome! Some prior exposure to basic issues of organizational behavior (communication, decision making, motivation, etc.) is useful, but not required.


    • In the first module we outline the basics of leadership and leadership development with an international mindset, exploring common traps & challenges, and opportunities of intercultural leadership.
    • In this second module we talk about the impact of culture and cultural differences on organizations, different perspectives on analyzing and decoding culture, and how to develop intercultural intelligence.
    • Almost everything international leaders do, they do through communication. In an international context, they often encounter communication barriers when they interact with followers, peers, and partners from other cultures. We talk about how to encourage open, respectful, and productive conversations for improving collaboration and collective decision-making. We will also closely examine the role of communication for leaders' identity and their relationships with others. Bocconi alumni who have accumulated many years of international experience share with us what they have learned about intercultural communication and how to develop your communication skills.
    • International leaders need to spur and channel the energy, talents, and commitment of their followers. To foster motivation leaders need to recognize people's diverse needs and motives, cultural foundations of motivation, and social mechanisms that determine motivation in teams. We emphasize that there is no “magic bullet” for motivation that works reliably and universally, we discuss motivation theories and frameworks that can greatly enhance international leaders’ ability to adapt their motivation efforts in intercultural contexts - both for individuals and for teams.
    • Throughout the course we emphasize leaders’ interdependent relationships with followers, and the importance of managing those relationships. Here we broaden our view to consider the network of relationships. We work towards a solid understanding of how social networks evolve, how they constrain and enable cognition and behavior, and which relational norms international leaders want to consider as they actively network across cultural boundaries. Bocconi alumni will share their recommendations for effective networking.
    • Conflicts are a normal occurrence in any organization, and can be productive and beneficial when managed effectively. In this last module we talk about conflicts styles, and focus on distributive and procedural justice concerns across a variety of cultural settings. Bocconi alumni share their approaches to identifying and working through important conflicts in a multicultural context. We also discuss how to handle ethical dilemmas – often the most challenging conflicts international leaders have to handle.

Taught by

Franz Wohlgezogen and Luigi Proserpio


3.9 rating, based on 14 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 2577 ratings

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Nice well-organized course with an interesting professor. I have a pleasure not only listening but also viewing the lectures -- if Coursera courses nominated for Oscars this would got one for Best Cinematography. Theory is accompanied with VIP interviews, case studies with experts and Bocconi students. Peer-to-peer assignment allows to apply some theory to a real life situation from your own experience. Quizzes are very simple, statement of accomplishments can be easily gained. You should not miss the forum activity with an optional but useful discussion topics involving interesting people from all over the world.
  • Profile image for Hassan Yousry
    Hassan Yousry
    The professor is cool:) Speaking a bit fast, he introduces some key points and concepts in the international business context. The discussion with other Bocconi students is also interesting.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I found the course to be quite insightful and well organized. Motivated me to learn the material and complete all the tasks. Very good external links and additional information provided for those who want to delve further into a subject. Very happy with it. Would gladly partake in a course that is designed and executed just as well.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Great Teacher, very well structured course with clear explanations focusing on the key messages. Good quality videos recorded on different locations to break the routine. The course is highly reccommended to get an overall view on Leadership in International environments.
  • Maboroshi completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    The professor is cool:) Speaking a bit fast, he introduces some key points and concepts in the international business context. The discussion with other Bocconi students is also interesting.
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  • Aitor Morgado completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

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