The Global Case Study Challenge: A Virtual Exchange Developing Global Work Competencies


  • Svetlana Buko Carinthia University of Applied Sciences
  • Eithne Knappitsch Carinthia University of Applied Sciences
  • Anna Zinenko School of Tourism and Hotel Management, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Barbara Covarrubias Venegas Ferdinand Porsche FernFH, Austria



virtual exchange, e-learning design, collaborative learning, future work competencies, experiential virtual learning, internationalisatin


The Global Case Study Challenge (GCSC) is a virtual exchange program designed for Bachelor and Master level students from interdisciplinary programs. The program focuses on the development of key Global Work (GloW) competencies, defined as: intercultural, digital communication and sustainability competencies. This paper discusses how the GCSC, as a new virtual model of teaching and learning, in a real-world context, supports the development of future-oriented work competencies. These competencies are crucial for effective global virtual teamwork and New Work scenarios in remote contexts. To date, 1450 students and 50 educators from 30 universities across 20 different countries have worked together in some 380 Global Virtual Teams on real-life business cases. 

The learning design of this virtual exchange project is rooted in the knowledge that future-oriented global work competencies such as intercultural competence, digital communication competence and sustainability competence can only be developed through transformative learner-centred experiential learning. In the 2021 iteration of the GCSC, over the 8-weeks of the program, 86 groups of interdisciplinary Global Virtual Teams (GVTs) worked together: Establishing team-building dynamics while working in self-directed GVTs of 5-7 students, reflecting on (corporate) sustainability, collaborating on real-life business cases, and presenting their solutions and recommendations to a major global corporate partner at a virtual conference. The impact of the program on students’ competency development was measured using a longitudinal study design. The intercultural, digital communication, and sustainability competencies of the participants were measured pre-exchange (n=263) and post-exchange (n=274). The findings demonstrate a consistent increase of competencies over time among the program participants in almost all categories (knowledge, skills, attitudes), providing clear evidence of the overall positive impact of the GCSC on participants' competency development over the two-month program. Ultimately, the GCSC contributes towards students becoming highly effective members and leaders of high-performing Global Virtual Teams.

Author Biographies

Svetlana Buko, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences

Dr. Svetlana Buko, sociologist, methodologist, cross-border researcher with intercultural experience from six countries. She worked for INGOs and managed USA-Europe interdisciplinary teams for national qualitative and quantitative research in the field of leadership, women entrepreneurship, and cultural intelligence. Dr. Buko is a docent of intercultural management, teaching for the MA-Level Program “Intercultural Management” (Nova Gorica, Slovenia), and Program Director of a BA-Level Intercultural Management degree at  Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (Villach, Austria). Dr. Buko is currently working on the research project “Entrepreneurship and intercultural competencies in the tri-border region: Italy-Austria-Slovenia,” and serves as an instructional designer for cross-border COIL business laboratories.   

Eithne Knappitsch, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences

FH-Prof.  Dr. Eithne Knappitsch is Professor of Intercultural Management at Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Austria. Eithne is a practitioner-academic-educator focussing on  the fields of virtual teamwork and leadership, competency development, intercultural and diversity&inclusion management. Eithne is passionate about the interplay of communication, culture and connectivity. She is  co-founder of the, a virtual learning, research and teaching project, Eithne is president of SIETAR Austria and curator of TEDxKlagenfurt

Anna Zinenko, School of Tourism and Hotel Management, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) (Barcelona, Spain)

Dr. Anna Zinenko is currently developing her career in university higher education in Barcelona, Spain at the School of Tourism and Hotel Management, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), where she is lecturing international business to local and international students. Before starting her path in education, Anna had an opportunity to work for MNCs and IGOs and live in five different countries. Her research interests include sustainability strategy, corporate social responsibility instruments, and sustainability integration in different cultural frameworks. She also serves as Creative Operations lead at the award-winning COIL project Global Case Study Challenge.

Barbara Covarrubias Venegas, Ferdinand Porsche FernFH, Austria

Dr. Barbara Covarrubias Venegas is an expert, keynote speaker, executive coach and consultant in new working and learning. Over the past 10 years, she has been researching, and training on the topics HR, New Ways of Working & Learning, Leadership & Culture, teaching internationally and designing virtual learning journeys. She is a creator of the award-winning COIL project with over 600 students from over 14 countries and a founder of #virtualspacehero - a community of virtual enthusiasts exchanging on topics about the virtual classroom, virtual events and working, collaborating remotely. Besides, she leads #virtualspacehero productions, a company focusing on EXTRAordinary and memorable virtual events.