Business simulations involve case study activities with real-time feedback and an added time dimension (Carson, 1969, p.39). For example, management simulations “are all the simulations used to support managerial learning through an experience that features competition and rules in the socio-economic environment” (Baldissin, De Toni, and Nonino, 2007, p.10). Over recent years the popularity of business simulations – both online and offline – has soared. This is, in part, accounted to the idea of enhancing more traditional learning practices. In addition, the conventional methods and tools used for teaching business skills are insufficient to cope with the complexity of contemporary organisations and unpredictable market dynamics (Achtenhagen et al, 1993). Therefore, the aim of these simulations is to enhance specific skills in an environment that is easily transferable to the business context.
Benefits to the Participants:
Business simulations empower people to act in a rational way and to develop critical thinking skills helping them to solve real problems through taking purposeful and logical actions (Brookfield, 1995). This is because business simulations involve realistic decision contexts that mirror real life. Consequently, delegates are exposed to situations that are realistic and learn how to react to them. The element of competition can be particularly important – adding the component of stress which is apparent in the every day environment. What is more, through working together throughout the company, organisational alignment can be achieved as a result of the establishment of a common understanding of the business. Furthermore, research has demonstrated that when taught in a classroom, students remember 20% of the information. When learning by doing, they retain 80% of the knowledge.
Benefits in Terms of Performance:
Some of the most notable benefits can be seen through the results which emerge from such business simulations, these include:
- Improved individual decision-making – leading to better bottom line results.
- Early identification of problems and opportunities.
- Increased speed and accuracy of communication.
- Enhanced interdepartmental respect.
- Deeper customer understanding.
- Greater buy-in for management initiatives and requests.
Benefits to the Facilitators:
Advantages can also be seen for the facilitators of the training event. This is because the facilitators can analyse how the understanding of the delegates are developing. In addition, bespoke simulation games can be developed, and consequently will be highly relevant to the organisation – enabling the facilitators to draw on real examples and experiences to bring the ideas to life, consequently ensuring that the learning is applicable to the participants.
In regards to leadership and development, business simulations are becoming more and more relevant. Bill Hall, President of Simulation Studios, reports that over 80% of his company’s clients want to learn more about how to use simulations for leadership and development. This is especially apparent as technology advancements allow business simulations to be developed much quicker and for less money.
The soaring popularity of business simulations was an obvious outcome from the recent advances in technology combined with the apparent benefits of using such simulations in training. With few disadvantages, and the increase of tech savvy millennials in the work place, it seems that business simulations really could be the new way to learn.
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Miller, J (2015) How to Increase Your Training Impact through Business Simulations. September 14, 2015. The People Equation. Available http://people-equation.com/how-to-increase-your-training-impact-through-business-simulations/ (accessed 23.11.15).
Barišić, F & Prović. Business simulation as a tool for entrepreneurial learning. The role of business simulation in entrepreneurship education.
Business Simulation Games (2015). Simulation Benefits. Business Simulation Games. Available http://www.businesssimulationgames.co.uk/business-simulations/simulation-benefits (accessed 23.11.15).