With the increasing growth in international markets and their diverse global interdependence, demands are rising on the management of markets, clients, competitive advantages, products, innovation and brands, businesses, communication, sponsoring, and market research—in short, on all of the typical branches of marketing. There is no question that these areas of marketing are linked by many common operational issues. Decision-oriented handling of such highly complex problems requires a systematic, well-grounded education in both the technical and managerial aspects of Marketing. Building off of and further strengthening students’ technical, managerial, and leadership skills in marketing, the Master’s program IMM targets the integration of Marketing and Management Know-How. The educational focus lies in the following areas:
- Market Research: Knowledge of market demands and consumer behavior are of central importance to making marketing decisions. The task of market research is to anticipate these demands, to measure market behavior, and to put this information into context with business decisions. The Master’s program emphasizes a solid quantitative orientation and presents practical examples.
- Development of Marketing Strategies and Business Plans: On the basis of sound market research knowledge, marketing strategies that hedge opportunities and risks can be developed and put in writing in business plans. Here, controlling also plays an important role. By means of concrete cases, the Master’s program requires that students develop strategic policy options and provide reasoned-decisions for choosing the option that promises the most success.
- Implementation of Strategies in Business Marketing: Marketing strategies have to be implemented into logical, operational programs of action. On one hand, strategic marketing programs specify content and on the other hand, adjust to the company’s potential. Strategic and operative marketing plans have to be linked so that marketing instruments can be consistently applied towards realizing the company’s strategy. Aspects of the Marketing-Controlling Mix are also of importance.
- International Decisions in Corporate Management and International Management Competency: Marketing decisions generally require downstream decisions at the level of corporate culture, systems, and structures. Adapting marketing decisions to the marketing concept is the responsibility of management, for example in the case of a relocation abroad or a strategic country-mix. In an international context, marketing decisions have particular importance because they are difficult to revise and affect foreign cultures. These topics are taken up in specific modules as well as in integrated modules during the Master’s program.
“Advertising” and “promotion” are two distinct marketing functions that are often equated under the same term of “marketing.” This falls short because marketing developed from a business sales-function to a key concept in business administration. Customer-, market-, and stakeholder-orientation form the central principles of the integrated management approach. This approach demands consistent guidance of all business activities in the market.
Market-oriented business administration means thinking about customer and competitive advantages. In the international business world, this presents a particular challenge. Challenges frequently include thinking methodically and systematically in order to quickly familiarize oneself with new and unfamiliar situations, including customer demands and problems, while at the same time grasping and evaluating market trends in order to implement them into marketing decisions. It is also important to consider the interdependent effects of these decisions on individual cases. Obviously, purely functional thinking and action are not enough here. Instead, abstract abilities and thinking in terms of interlinked structures along with competency in planning, management, and controlling are necessary.
The Master’s program in IMM focuses therefore not on single areas of marketing, but rather places the variety of Marketing Management functions in relation to market-oriented business administration.
A guiding principle of the Master’s program in IMM lies in providing practical experience. In addition to learning the necessary technical knowledge, working through case studies in groups also plays an important role in promoting application-based learning, but also in imparting social skills and management ability. Practical relevance is ensured through the following five principles:
- Orientation of program content and learning outcomes on the demands of career fields.
- High proportion of case studies and exercises based on professional questions and problems.
- Lecturers have at least five years of practical work experience.
- On-going exchange with businesses through practical projects.
- Application-oriented research at the research institute of the Department.
The experience and findings of research projects led by lecturers are incorporated into the education. The research institute of the Department plays a central role in this regard. It offers students the opportunity to collaborate on research projects during their studies, which allows them to apply and deepen what they have learned in the program.
Program modules have a distinct international focus. A prerequisite of internationalism, however, is language skills. In order to promote the international orientation of the program, some lectures and seminars are held in English.
During lectures and seminars, students should learn subject-specific terminology, but most importantly, they should practice the casual use of the foreign language in order to become more confident in using it. By no means is process about educating students to be “native speakers.” Subject-specific content is always the focus.
A key feature here is the use of English-language case studies. Students gain skills from the case studies that can be transferred across different companies, branches, markets, and nations. Case studies also enable students to draw conclusions for their specific realm of experience and professional practice.
During the third semester, students gain new knowledge and experience by studying abroad at a foreign university or undertaking an internship or project at a company. Students can choose among the following options:
- Study-abroad semester at a partner university: Students attend lectures at the partner university not offered in Ludwigshafen, which provides a synergistic complement to the Master’s program (certificate from partner university required).
- Internship semester at a foreign company or at a foreign subsidiary of a German company: This entails a supervised internship period during which work on internal company issues and tasks in the field of Marketing.
- Internship semester at a German company: This entails a supervised internship period during which students work on internal company issues and tasks in the field of international Marketing (work must be internationally-oriented).