A merger of two airlines from Germany and Austria presents an opportunity for students to reflect on notions of cultures and business cultures, and then to begin to think critically about biases and stereotypes inherent in the country of origin effect (COE). While the country of origin is defined by where a consumer perceives a product to be from, regardless from where it may actually originate, the COE influences consumer purchases and perceptions. This influence, while seemingly coming from positive traits associated with the country, can also perpetuate stereotypes and false monolithic views of culture. This article presents a business case about the merger of Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa as part of a larger class unit consisting of six 50-minute course periods designed for the intermediate German post-secondary classroom. The case study presented here uses the concept of COE to examine how the nation and culturally driven goods and services may also uphold stereotypes as well as consumer and marketer biases. This current study looks at culture and language learning, cultural assessment standards and their suggested outcomes, and recent criticisms of these models in a global context. As part of the business case unit activities, students reflect on print and video advertising to develop written descriptions, to read an image, and to state an opinion—all with the goal of engaging critically with notions of culture used in travel industry marketing and branding. The purpose of this project is to embed critical readings for students of both a national culture and a monolithic German business culture early in the curriculum.
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