Yale School of Management

Lessons from a ‘Hackathon’ on Globalization

After weeks of class and offline work, it all came down to eight hours for Beth Goldberg ’18 and her teammates. They faced a challenge that many leaders are currently contemplating—how will the wave of populism and anti-globalization impact their work? And how will they navigate those changes to ensure success for their organization? 

Goldberg was part of a Yale SOM team participating in a one-day “hackathon,” assembling a proposal for leaders confronting the challenges to the international liberal order that has held sway since World War II. It was the conclusion to “The End of Globalization?,” an online Global Network Course taught by Senior Associate Dean David Bach, in which 41 students from 21 schools in the Global Network for Advanced Management analyzed the shifting opinions across countries and regions regarding globalization. Four finalists would have the opportunity to present their conclusions at an event at the Global Network Fifth Anniversary Symposium and get responses from former secretary of state John Kerry and Michael Warren, managing principal of Albright Stonebridge Group.

Goldberg and her teammates gathered to talk about the experience this spring. She said that when her team gathered to begin the project, her team focused on reviewing what each member brought to the project. “I think we really upped each other’s game,” she said. “We used a model to be critical and to really give each other thoughtful feedback while bringing in our completely different experiences to bare.”  

She added that she was impressed that despite working with language barriers and different cultural approaches to problem-solving, teams identified similar problems as barriers to globalization, particularly inequality. 

“The finalists focused on different specific drivers or business tactics that were a lot more similar than I was expecting,” she said. “It was really heartening to see that regardless of our different, diverse backgrounds from all over the world, there were some pretty obvious causes.”

Andrew Kuzrok SOM ’18 said that after weeks together in the class, students held similar working definitions, providing a strong foundation for discussing their ideas. “Without that, it would have been so easy for teams to define different terms and just talk past each other,” he said. “There was this common core of what we think globalization, authoritarianism, and populism mean, so you could see this like-for-like comparison of how different people were going to take on the question, which I found much more useful than people going off in different directions.” 

The hackathon provided a practical application of classroom concepts in a simulated environment, with the added pressure of putting ideas before Kerry, he said.

“When you’re working with a team, you have to learn how to do it without those training wheels. That’s really fun to get to do live,” he said. “To me, I’d like to build on that experience. OK, you have eight hours on a really nasty problem. How are you going to do that?”