The International Module at  Sabancı Business School

Sabancı University, founded in 1995 as a nonprofit foundation university, is an innovative institution responsive to the needs of all our constituents through a participatory, team-based culture. Sabancı University has an interdisciplinary educational infrastructure with the mission of “Creating and Developing Together.” The University aspires to become a global reference point for educational innovation.

In a relatively short span of time both the University and the Sabanci Business School (SBS) have made great advances towards its goals of innovation and internationalization. SBS received accreditation from AASCB as proof of its quality of faculty and educational programs. The University has ranked first in the “Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Turkish Higher Education Index” in 2012 by the Science, Industry and Technology Ministry. SBS has developed an international reputation leading to cooperation with high quality institutions worldwide. The University has ranked first in terms of the percentage of exchange students in the country, creating a multicultural campus. SBS signed a strategic partnership agreement with MIT Sloan School of Management in 2011 and with Columbia Business School in 2016. Last but not least, the School with its Executive MBA program was ranked by Financial Times among the Best 100 Business Schools in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019.

Sabanci Business School offers a number of full-time and part-time graduate programs in addition to an undergraduate management program. The School hosts one of the most successful executive education centers in the region. In addition it is home to the Center for Applied Finance Education, Corporate Governance Forum of Turkey, the U.N.’s Carbon Disclosure Project Turkey, Entrepreneurship Development Program, and the Competitiveness Forum. SBS is a member the EFMD, CEEMAN, PRME and Global Compact.

Study trip in Istanbul promises an experience unlike any other. Istanbul is the city of wonder between Europe and Asia. The university campus is on the outskirts of the Asian side of Istanbul next to industrial heart of the city. As the largest city in Turkey and 5th largest in the world with a population of 12.8 million, Istanbul (European Capital of Culture, 2010) is a cultural, economic, and financial center of its region. During its long history the city served as the capital of three Empires. Turkey is the 16th largest economy in the world with a booming economy and easy access to 1.5 billion customers in Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Sabancı Business School
Orta Mah. Üniversite Cad. No:27
Orhanli - Tuzla, 34956 Istanbul

Neyir Ozdemir
Executive MBA Program Coordinator
+90-216-483 9743

Overview and Learning Objectives


It seems that not a week goes by when Turkey is not in the news. From relations with Europe, Russia, and its other neighbors, to the challenges of harboring 3 million plus Syrian refugees, Turkey is a country confronting massive challenges. Yet with half its 80 plus million population under the age of 30, it is also a highly dynamic country.   What does it mean to be a manager in a company in Turkey, resting at the meeting point of three continents?  The international module at the Sabancı School of Management, Sabancı University, aims to provide attendees a deep appreciation of:

  • The political, economic, and socio-cultural context of doing business in Turkey.
  • Develop a broader understanding of the characteristics of Turkish culture and the influence of the Turkish cultural mindset on management.
  • How Turkish business been changing and what it is doing to meet the challenges of a turbulent global economy.
  • What are the cross-cultural challenges and opportunities facing expatriate managers in Turkey? Does Islam impact the business environment, if so, how?
  • Basic understanding of the global financial integration of an emerging market economy into the wider global economy.
  • Issues and prospects for the sustainability of Turkey’s economic performance when compared to other actors in the global economy.
  • The types of firms in Turkey, whether they are SMEs (small medium sized enterprises) large family conglomerates, internationalizing business groups, or multinationals and what this means for their management practices.
  • Being an entrepreneur in an emerging market like How does it differ from entrepreneurial challenges in more developed economies.
  • The challenge of building global brands from Turkey.

Turkish professors, top managers, and entrepreneurs, all selected for their expertise and knowledge of both the Turkish context and their broader world view, will lead focused discussions throughout the program. The Istanbul international module will include five content-filled working days (Monday to Friday). Every day will be focused on a specific topic aimed at doing business in Turkey. Prof. Nakiye Boyacıgiller, professor of Management and International Business at Sabancı School of Management will spend the entire week with the participants, helping them weave the various modules together.

Target and learning objectives

The program is targeted at managers and entrepreneurs who want to:

  • Learn about Turkey, a growing emerging market and an important political and economic leader in a critical region of the world
  • Learn specifics about managing in the Turkish context, ie, the success and challenges of the financial sector, culture and human resource management practices, strategic innovation and the challenges of internationalization in an emerging country with a look at how to turn local brands into global ones.

Participants will learn about:

The -political, socio-cultural, and economic context of Turkey.

  • Acquire basic knowledge about the specific features of the social, economic and political contexts in Turkey,
  • Obtain basic understanding of the leading stakeholders and their demands and aspirations in Turkish civil society. and
  • Understand social, political and economic dynamics and processes in Turkey’s adaptation to global transformations

Culture and Human Resource Management practices in Turkey.


  • Develop a broader understanding of the characteristics of Turkish culture and the influence of the Turkish cultural mindset on management, explained in particular,  by theories of motivation and leadership,
  • Learn the specific influences on the HR philosophy, policies and practices of Turkish firms and their owner managers, and
  • Understand the variety of HRM practices in use across Turkish firms 


The Turkish Economic and Financial Context  

  • Basic knowledge of the features of the Turkish economy and its financial system
  • Basic understanding of global financial integration of an emerging market economy into the wider global economy,
  • Performance of Turkish financial markets in the context of the financial crisis in Europe, and
  • Issues and prospects for the sustainability of Turkey’s economic performance when compared to other actors in the global economy


Entrepreneurship in Turkey

  • Turkish start up ecosystem


Key Learnings Project Assignment: 

  • This program has been developed to provide you with top notch lectures from some of the most knowledgeable experts on Turkey. In order for you to maximize your learnings from the presentations, in groups of three-four you will prepare a short PowerPoint presentation to give to the entire class. The presentation should include the following:
  • Key learnings from the week, this should be one slide, brief but to the point
  • How did you find Turkey different or similar to your home country?
  • If you were to invest in Turkey, what sectors would you choose, where and why? What entrepreneurial opportunities do you see in the country?


Teaching Methodology:

  • Interactive lectures
  • Company visits
  • Group Works

Readings to be done before you arrive in Istanbul:

  1. Richard H.K. Vietor. Turkey—A Work in Progress? HBS Case, 2015.
  2. Please do google searches on the companies we will be visiting before you arrive in Turkey: Turkish Airlines, Airties, & Mavi Jeans. Each day a group of students preselected by Prof. Boyacigiller will be expected to lead the  Q&A discussions during our company visits.
  3. Peruse last few months or articles on Turkey in the Economist or other solid news sources to be relatively aware of recent political events.

Important note: Please know that we have made security our first concern when choosing the hotels and venue for the class. We will conduct the program in the Sicimoglu Yalisi, a Sabanci property on the Bosphorus, away from Istanbul’s main tourist and business centers.

Program at the glance 

Program at glance

Saturday, September 15th:
19:00-21:00 Welcome Dinner

Sunday, September 16th: 
09:00-16:00 Sightseeing off the beaten track: Istanbul's Hidden Treasures
 Free time.

Monday, September 17th: 
History, Culture and Politics
Transfer to Sabanci University

09:00-09:45 SU and Higher Education in Turkey. Nakiye Boyacıgiller, PhD.
10:00-12:00 How History has Shaped the Political, Economic and Social Context of Turkey. Prof. Ersin Kalaycioglu, Faculty Member, Sabancı University 
13:00-15:00 Turkish Culture and its managerial (and political) implications. Prof. Arzu Wasti, Faculty Member, Sabancı University
17:00-19:00 Prepare Turkish Airlines recommendations

Tuesday, September 18th: 
Political Turbulence and the Turkish Economy

09:15-11:00 An Overivew of Turkey's Economy: Strengths and Weakneses Prof. Ahmet Oncu, Faculty Member, Sabancı University
11:15-12:30 Politics at the Crossroads: TR and  EU, US, Russia and its neighbors. Prof. Meltem Muftuler Bac, Faculty Member, Sabancı University
Visit to Turkish Airlines: Competing in a Turbulent Environment Turkish Airlines

17:00-18:00 Project work time

Wednesday, September 19th: 
The Refugee Crisis and its Impact on TR
09:15-10:30 Managing Crises in Turkey: What I have learned from working  with top MNCs.  Isil Aridag, UNITE Founder & COO 
10:45-12:00 The Syrian Refugee Crisis: An Overview. Prof. Ayse Betul Celik, Faculty Member, Sabancı University 
14:15-16:00 NGO working  with Syrian Refugees 
16:00-17:00 Tea and afternoon pastries at cafe run by Syrian refugees in Aksaray district
18:00-19:00 Project work time

Thursday, September 20th: 
Entrepreneurship in a Turbulent Context
09:15-10:30 Working in and from Turkey: Perspectives of a Turkish American Entrepreneur. Bülent Çelebi, Cofounder, Airties
10:45-12:00 Panel Discussion: What foreigners need to know about doing business in TR. Didem Altop, Endeavor     
13:30-15:00 Visit to to ITU Cekirdek Incubator. Deniz Tuncalp, PhD   
16:00-17:00 Project work time

Friday, September 21st:  
Transformation and Globalization in a Turbulent Environment
 Transformation in an Emerging Economy: Case of Modern Retailing in Turkey and Teknosa,  Dr. Cüneyt Evirgen

11:15-13:00 Competing internationally from Turkey: Company visit to Mavi Jeans
14:00-15:00 Project work time
15:00-16:00 Team Presentations: Investing in Turkey
16:00-16:30 Certificate Presentation
16:30-18:00 Tour of Sakip Sabanci Museum
Farewell Dinner 

Saturday, September 22nd: Free day for Shopping/Sightseeing

Nakiye Boyacıgiller

Prof. Dr. Nakiye A. Boyacigiller is the former Dean of the Sabanci School of Management at Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey.  Born in the US and educated in Turkey, France and the US, Dr. Boyacigiller’s research, teaching and leadership activities all reflect her interests in enhancing the effectiveness of multicultural work groups and cross border collaboration. In 2007 Nakiye was elected a Fellow of the Academy of International Business (AIB) for her contributions to the scholarly development of the field of international business. In addition to her work at Sabanci she is on several international advisory boards advancing business education,  women’s empowerment and philantropy.  

Ahmet Esen

Ahmet Esen started his business career with Pfizer in 1979 when he joined the Turkish organization as a management trainee in the Technical Division. In 1983 he was appointed as Personnel Director.  He worked as Assistant Finance Director in 1989 for six months before taking Sales Manager role in the Pharmaceutical Division.  In 1993, Esen was appointed Country Manager, Pfizer-Pakistan and two years later, he continued his career in New York as Executive Personnel Director, North America/Australia/Canada Region.  Esen was named Regional Director, South and Middle Africa in early 1996.  In 1999, Esen was appointed as Country Manager, Pfizer-Turkey.  Esen served as Country Manager, Pfizer-China between 2006 and end-2009.Mr. Esen teaches “International Business” and “Global Strategy Immersion” courses at Sabanci University. Esen is recently appointed as Sabanci University Consortium Program Director. Esen has a BS degree in chemical engineering from Bogazici University. He received his MS degree in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College.  Esen also holds an MBA from Bogazici University.

Ersin Kalaycıoğlu

Ersin Kalaycıoğlu is Professor of Political Science at Sabanci University (Turkey) since 2007 and visiting professor at Harvard University. Prior to his tenure at Sabanci University, he served as the president of the Işık University (Turkey) between 2004 and 2007. In his career, Kalaycıoğlu has also taught at various US universities, including the University of Iowa (1980-1981) and at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (1989-1990 and 1998-1999), in the capacity of visiting scholar. Dr. Kalaycıoğlu is professor of comparative politics and specializes in political representation and participation. He has internationally published on those two fields. He has authored and co-edited five books in Turkish on Turkish and Comparative Participation and Politics, and following four books in English: Turkish Dynamics (New York: Macmillan-Palgrave, 2005), co-authored with Ali Çarkoğlu of Sabanci University two books: Turkish Democracy Today, (London: I. B. Tauris, 2007) and The Rising Tide of Conservatism in Turkey, (New York: Palgrave – Macmillan, 2009).

Cüneyt Evirgen

Dr. Evirgen, who completed his high school education in Robert College, Istanbul-Turkey, graduated from Bosporus University, Istanbul, Turkey with BSc degree in Electrical Engineering and BsC degree in Mathematics in 1986 as a double major student. He continued his graduate studies in the area of marketing and received his MBA degree from Bosporus University, and in 1995, he received his PhD degree in marketing and international business from Michigan State University (MSU), USA.Dr. Evirgen specializes in Marketing Strategy, Retailing and Marketing Research where he has carried out a number of studies. Between the years 2003-2004, he lectured at Koc University and Sabanci University in the areas of marketing management, global marketing management and strategic brand management. During the same period, he was appointed as Director of the professional Training and Consultancy Program in retailing at Sabanci University.

Arzu Wasti

S. Arzu Wasti is a Professor of management at the Graduate School of Management, Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey. She received her B.S. (Management) in 1992 and her Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in 1994 from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. In 1996, as a Fulbright scholar, she earned an M.S. degree in Human Resources Management at Purdue University. In 1999, she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Her cross-cultural research on organizational commitment, sexual harassment, organizational trust and organizational culture has appeared in such journals as Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of International Business Studies and Leadership Quarterly. She is a recipient of several research awards, including the International Academy of Intercultural Relations's Best Dissertation Award, the Academy of Management's Lyman Porter and Carolyn Dexter Best Paper Awards and the Turkish Academy of Sciences Encouragement Award.

Ahmet Öncü 

Ahmet Öncü is professor of sociology in the School of Management. Professor Öncü’s scholarship is grounded in theories and methods found in the fields of social theory, historical sociology and political economy with application to topics and issues pertaining to the Turkish social formation. His research primarily falls into three themes and related broad research questions:  grounding Turkish modernity and capitalism on social theory; political economy of class dynamics and their implications for social and cultural change; and social, political and moral foundations of democracy and citizenship.

Meltem Müftüler Baç

Meltem Müftüler-Baç is Professor of International Relations
and Jean Monnet chair at Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey. She is a graduate of Robert College (1984), received her B.A in Political Science from Boğaziçi University (1988), M.A (1989) and Ph.D. (1992) in Political Science/International relations from Temple University, USA.  She worked at Bilkent University from 1992 to January 2002; and as a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago.Prof. Müftüler-Baç authored Turkey’s Relations with a Changing Europe(Manchester University Press, 1997), Turkey and the European Union Relations: Dilemmas, Opportunities and Constraints, co-edited with Yannis Stivachtis (Lexington books, 2008), and Diverging Pathways: Turkey and the European Union, Re-Thinking the Dynamics of Turkish-European Union Relations (Berlin: Budrich publishers, 2016).  Prof. Müftüler-Baç holds two prestigious awards from the Turkish Academy of Sciences: Young Social Scientist Investigator Award in 2002 and Distinguished Young Scientist Award in 2003. She was awarded with the Jean Monnet Professor ad personam title from the European Commission in 2004.


Ayşe Betül Çelik

Ayşe Betül Çelik received her Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2002 and is a full Professor at Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey. She teaches political science and conflict resolution. She is an expert on ethnic conflict, reconciliation, dialogue, forced migration and gender and peacebuilding.  She has several articles and a co-authored book on Turkey’s Kurdish Question, forced Kurdish migration and role of NGOs in the conflict. She also teaches gender awareness to high school teachers in several cities in Turkey.

Le Meridien Istanbul Etiler


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Room Fees:

- Single Deluxe Room: 120 Euro + VAT (including breakfast),

- Double Deluxe Room: 130  uro + VAT (including breakfast),

Reservation Code: Sabanci University

The Grand Tarabya Hotel


Contact Person: Ms. Buket Bilir

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Room Fees:

- Deluxe Single Room (Bosphorus View): 210 Euro + VAT (including breakfast)

- Deluxe Single Room (Garden/Marina View) Single: 160 Euro + VAT, Double (including breakfast)

Reservation Code: Sabanci University

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