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Bottle Of Coke Crosses Cultural Business Gaps

Oct. 26, 2011

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Listen closely. If you're really observant, you might have recognized the sounds of lids being twisted off of bottles of Coke, and the familiar blast of fizz that comes when the carbonation is unleashed. It's a sound heard the world over; in this case, recorded in Kenya. And in that Kenyan makeshift classroom, it's also the sound of "business as usual" evaporating with the familiar brown bubbles themselves. Those Cokes were being opened in a sort of growing global business school with its roots in Waco and Honduras.

That's Baylor University business professor Blaine McCormick. Traveling abroad to help out individuals or orgnizations with business issues was a role he has occasionally filled, and it was a role that took him to Donta Una, Honduras, a village that was the living emobdiment of the term "off the grid." While the work was being done, one member of the village asked him to take on another task--offering guidance to a 3 locals--a grocer, a taxi driver, and a fisherman--who comprised a large portion of the town's commerce.

That lack of prepartion would turn out to be fortunate, although questions abounded for Dr. McCormick. What basic concepts would these people need? How would the language barrier affect communication? But there was a common thread that ended up making the lessons come alive, allowing even entrepreneurs whose language didn't include the word, and whose methods would be considered primitive here in the States, to connect with the subject matter.

One of those one horse towns was Donta Uno. And from the time they started using a bottle of Coke to drive the discussion, Dr. McCormick could see that this simple prop could open up horizons that lessons from a book never could. He returned to Baylor pondering the implications of his discovery, and thinking about where to take these ideas next. Tomorrow, we'll continue to visit with Dr. McCormick and his fellow Baylor business professor, Dr. Van Gray, examing how the Coke bottle helped them realize what concepts they needed to be teaching in Honduras, and then Africa, and beyond. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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