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Integrative Business Experience

Class work will only get you so far. The Harmon College of Business knows that real business experience before graduation is a must in today’s competitive world. Enter the Integrative Business Experience.

Traditionally, business schools have attempted to build these skills by having students get “real-world” exposure by having them work with problems of existing business organizations by analyzing cases and/or engaging in consulting projects. The Integrative Business Experience (IBE) takes exactly the opposite approach. Instead of having students focus on what is inevitably a limited exposure to someone else’s organization, we have them create and operate two organizations of their own. One is a start-up business (based on an actual bank loan of up to $5,000). The other is focused on using the profit from their business to carry out a hands-on community service project.

As one UCM student put it: “It’s one thing to talk about a business plan or even write one (that’s what we do in other classes), but it’s something else to have to generate an idea from scratch and turn it into a profitable business—all in 15 weeks.”

Since our first pilot offering of IBE, 813 students have participated in the program and have created and operated 38 remarkably successful companies. In all these companies have:

  1. Obtained $96,991 in bank loans
  2. Generated a total revenue of $364,152
  3. Provided local community service organizations with:
    • $193,332 in financial support (from the profits of their start-up businesses)
    • 11,962 hours of community service time on projects organized by IBE companies

There are three very unique feature of the IBE approach. One is that promotes cross-discipline concept understanding because we require students to concurrently enroll in four courses: three junior-level, required core courses (i.e., Information Systems, Management and Marketing) and a practicum course in which they create and carry out the business plan for their start-up company and hands-on community service project. A second feature is that the core courses are taught using Team-Based Learning as a means of: 1) creating an active learning environment even though the courses are taught in large classes and, 2) shifting the focus in these courses from content coverage to content application. Finally the most unique feature of IBE, and the one that enables it to be powerful, practical and enjoyable for students and faculty, is that students are immersed in a truly real experience in which they have the opportunity to make choices and experience the consequences of their choices. As a result, students are less focused on grades and more focused on truly understanding the material because they see it as a potential help in doing what they need to do to be successful in their business and service ventures.

The IBE program and students have been featured in various media outlets.  News on the IBE program's charitable contributions surpassing $200,000 is available from KMZU radio. Other features include an article in the Kansas City Star and a video from Kansas City's KCTV Channel 5.

Find more information at the IBE Website »

Gallery of past products »