I would like to redesign the BA 495 Strategic Management capstone course to a simulation-based management training program that will integrate and reinforce knowledge and skills learned in courses of the core business curriculum. In its redesigned form, the entire Strategic Management course will be devoted to providing an enhanced business strategy simulation experience enriched with some value-added activities.
Business simulations are very effective educational tools that bridge the gap between classroom learning and the real-world business decision making process. Simulations require students to analyze ever-changing market situations, evaluate actions of competitors, make strategic decisions and enjoy or suffer the consequences of their own decisions. This is an active learning process that forces students to integrate knowledge across disciplines. Students are grouped into teams that represent competing business firms and the interaction among the teammates further enhances the active learning experience.
I will use the web-based Marketplace Live simulation offered by Innovative Learning Solutions, Inc. Students will form five-member teams and work as top managers, each with a specific functional role. Throughout the six decision periods or business quarters, they will conduct market analysis, evaluate the strategic position of the firm, and make tactical decisions with regards to product design, R&D, manufacturing capacity and production processes, inventory management, human resource management, sales channel planning, advertising, and financial accounting. They will need to adjust strategies and tactics in response to uncertainty arising from the market environment, the consequences of their own decisions, and actions of the competing teams. The goal is to achieve strategic dominance in the marketplace that is measured by a balanced scorecard within the simulation.
I will overlay value-added activities such as team formation exercise, executive briefings, peer review, and business plan presentation upon the simulation to enhance the learning experience. I will conduct regularly scheduled executive briefings in addition to regular class sessions. During these briefings I will play role of a Business Coach, and teams will meet with me separately to present their evaluation of the market situation, tactical decisions made for the business quarter, and justifications for those decisions. Instead of providing solutions to the team’s problems, I will raise questions and issues that have not yet been addressed in order to guide students towards self-discovery of knowledge. I will monitor the work and thought processes of each person and the team as a whole during the executive briefings. Each student will be graded individually on their executive briefing performance. I will develop executive briefing grading rubrics that will be customized according to the business knowledge and skill levels of AC students.
The complexity level of the simulation and grading rubrics will be adjusted over time based on the feedback from the students participating in the simulation. I will gradually develop handouts for functional areas in which AC students lack formal training.
To ensure an effective capstone experience for the students, I will collaborate with other economics and business faculty to identify the core concepts that they would like me to highlight in the simulation. Business simulation can be adopted for most business or economics courses as an add-on component. The large-scale simulation-based pedagogical model in the capstone Strategic Management course may lead or motivate the adoption of a simulation component in other business courses at AC.
This simulation-based experiential learning exercise will provide opportunities for students to gain a broader overview of the interplay between marketing, sales channels, human resources, operations, finance, and accounting in a business decision making process. The ultimate goal of the simulation project is to help AC students internalize the strategic thought process through the practice of business decision making.