Management Games and Their Impact In Business Schools

Management GamesBusiness schools worldwide, have been competing for the past couple of decades, in order to maintain their MBA ranking and the integration of many multilevel management games had a major role in improving their MBA students’ strategic skills as well as big-picture thinking. One of these well-known business games played at MIT-Sloan called the “Beer Game” whose goal is to teach how to optimize production, sale and distribution whereas the management institute Mannaz in Denmark has integrated “World of Warcraft” into its program to help its international students enhance their leadership effectiveness. Zintro experts discuss whether these business games are effective in teaching how to face challenges in the global economy and financial industry.

Electrical engineer and MBA, Augusto Carreira, states the lack of integration as his greatest concern about business school programs. “Management is taught as a collection of knowledge areas, separated from each other and the integration is left to the minds of the students. The management process is run in a system and the structure of such a system defines its behavior,” he explains. “The beer game is a fantastic tool to help understand this phenomenon if properly supported by the theoretic body behind it – System Dynamics.” As Carreira further points out, business management is primarily based on system design and operation. “The understanding of accumulation, feedback, reinforcing and balancing loops, delays and how counterintuitive a system’s behavior can be, is very powerful. Reinforcing loops, for instance, can help describe ever growing or ever decreasing spiral behaviors, whether it is in finance or in epidemics,” he adds. “Business management can get a lot from engineering approaches, specially its project and implementation-oriented principles, with the risk handling behind them.”

Val Samonis, an expert in online consulting and teaching, has doubts about the importance of games for true leaders in the 21st century even though he agrees that there is a place for them in management education. “For such leaders, the crucial dimension is understanding and constantly updating the knowledge of how their organization fits the changing globe. You need real knowledge about the global processes including experiential learning, not just the imagined ones in a lab,” he notes. “Big part of this continued Great Recession still is that quants continue to believe in game-like tweaking of their completely irrelevant models.”

Kabir Ahmad, an expert in digital gaming and gamification research, believes that management games make real life problems becomes easy to tackle in the long-term. “We talk about simulation, role playing, stress management, healthy communications, being competitive etc., but we often forget games actually can give an augmented experience combing all those and many more,” notes Ahmad.

 By Idil Kan


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