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Simulation Games: How It Enhance Learning Outcomes for PGDM & MBA Students

Innovative online management simulation games are excellent teaching resources for MBA/PGDM classrooms and any program that includes business subjects. Teachers and professors can include them in the classroom (indoor) activities list to demonstrate the practical applications of the business and economic theory that management students learn during the MBA/PGDM course. The interest and retention levels are highest when students can visualize what they have been taught.

Almost all the top business schools use strategy, finance, marketing games for MBA/PGDM students in some form or another. Often it is their graded capstone project. Apart from MBA/PGDM classrooms, these can also be used by corporate trainers for employees.

Some MBA/PGDM colleges may go for the big, sophisticated simulators that have a ton of features. Some others may prefer testing the efficacy of simulation software with low-cost or free games before deciding to upgrade to the leading companies in the space.

To talk of some international examples, Salford Business School in the UK has utilized a range of commercial business game simulations for many years. The game that has been developed by the Salford Business School over a 10-year period, is based on a purchasing and supply chain problem and has proven popular in a variety of deliveries. Moreover, the school has taken its experience with business simulation games further by commissioning the development of a specialist web-based simulation that will ultimately offer a flexible trainer/teacher interface.

While video simulation games may be relatively new teaching methods in the MBA classroom, business simulation games have long been preparing MBA candidates for real-world scenarios. Resembling the case study approach, business simulation games give students the chance to explore the dynamics of specific business environments or markets utilizing applied learning without the threat of ‘real world’ side effects.

Here, it may be mentioned that MIT Sloan was among the pioneers in developing simulation games for business education and their creation, “Platform Wars”, has become so popular that the school resolved to provide it as a free resource for all aspiring managers and business students.

MIT Sloan’s “Platform Wars” is basically a live, web-based simulation in which students take on the role of senior executive manager for a business in the gaming industry. In this capacity, the player has to lead the business to success, after considering the market, pricing, competitors, offers and networks. The main aim of the game is to allow business students to experience “the challenges of strategic competition in multi-sided markets with significant network externalities and important complementary assets.” The game can also be used in strategy and related business modules.

Again, The Wharton School also draws on simulation games to enhance business education in terms of students’ experience with role-play simulations, such as the “Start Up Game”, though these are non-virtual. Within the Wharton classroom, the students receive a specific role – founder, investor, employee – and sufficient information to be able to make decisions in their respective roles. The game permits the students to employ applied learning to the impact of negotiations, deal-making and the power of inter-personal communications in business.

To quote one more international example, at Lancaster University Management School, the Executive MBA Business Development Challenge simulation module consists of a four-day business simulation which includes a live Dragon’s Den funding pitch. According to Dr Marian Iszatt-White, director of the Lancaster University Management School Executive MBA, “Students love the buzz of presenting live and seeing the outcome in terms of ‘investment’ in their simulation business.”

Coming on to India, top B-schools like Asian Business School (ABS), Noida – which is a part of Asian Education Group and is ranked as one of the best B-schools in Delhi NCR – has quickly recognized the big importance of implementation of ‘Simulation’ as a great learning tool as it deals with the real-life application of the knowledge gained in the classroom. In sync with its beliefs, Asian Business School has recently earned to its credit another achievement of becoming an AIMA BizLab accredited institute. This accreditation is a part of its endeavour to enhance the managerial skills and entrepreneurial acumen of its PGDM students. The accreditation now makes them one of the very few privileged institutes across India to be AIMA BizLab accredited.

As the national apex body of management profession in the country, All India Management Association (AIMA) is committed to enhancing the competence of management profession through its multifaceted activities.

AIMA’s simulation based eLearning portal AIMA BizLab has been so designed as to make the process of understanding business, especially in the Indian context, interactive and fun oriented. It helps to imbue business leadership qualities in the budding managers of tomorrow. In fact, AIMA BizLab is a first of its kind virtual lab for management students in India through which PGDM & MBA students may “experiment” with various management strategies and tactics on the given scenario.

Here at Asian Business School, AIMA BizLab simulation training is a part of the certification in Entrepreneurship and it is expected to make the ABS PGDM students eligible for an additional certification in simulation from AIMA BizLab upon successful completion of the training.

As regards the program content, AIMA BizLab recreates real life business environment in a virtual game wherein participants are put in charge of companies, which compete against each other in a series of simulated rounds. A detailed analysis is provided at the end of each simulation round, which is expected to help management students improve on their decisions for the next round.

A few of the learning outcomes of the program include helping the students to develop thinking in entrepreneurial perspective (vision & mission); analysis of data and identifying issues of concerns; optimization of resources – machine (capacity), material, money; applying strategy into action plan, execution (decision) and review;  understanding financial statements and their application; prediction of market probabilities – tackling uncertainties; demand and supply assessment in cut throat competition; inventory management;  realization of risk factor in the business (calculative risk); and evaluating the approaches to lead or follow.

Thus we see that, whether personal or virtual, simulation games are an excellent way of facilitating experiential and applied learning. As technology advances and becomes a standard element in business education, the business games available to MBA/PGDM students will certainly become increasingly sophisticated and relevant, adding further value to the MBA/PGDM graduates’ skillset.