The Use of Decision Support Systems (DSS) and Operations Research/Management Science (OR/MS) Techniques to Enhance the Learning Experience of Students Participating in Computerized Simulations


  • Peter M. Markulis
  • Daniel R. Strang


" Management games and simulations are now a commonly accepted pedagogy in most business schools. Despite their widespread use and acceptance, questions remain as to their effectiveness as teaching instruments. Two particular concerns frequently raised are: 1) the lack of adequate time to make reasonable business decisions between decision-making periods and, 2) the failure of games to draw upon and integrate various concepts and techniques--particularly quantitative techniques--students have learned in business courses. Because games are said to have these two shortcomings, critics charge that students often resort to ‘seat-of-the-pants’ decision making, thus washing out or abrogating the game’s rationale--to help students in using and understanding the interrelatedness of business variables. This paper focuses on one way the authors have utilized to overcome these shortcomings in order to provide the students with a more meaningful way to learn from management games. This paper demonstrates how learning can be facilitated in both ‘general-purpose’ and ‘specialized’ management simulations through the use of DSS. For the “typical” management simulation, the DECIDE simulation game was used. For the “specialized” simulation, DECIDEP/ OM (designed for Production and Operations Management Courses) was employed. Participants included both students and business professionals. Spreadsheet analysis, implemented with VISICALC, was used by participants as a DSS to enable them to model the effects of various decision scenarios on their own firm’s profits prior to implementing their decisions. Although VISICALC was used in this study, the spreadsheet analysis which was performed could easily have been done using any of the other spreadsheet programs (such as Multiplan or Lotus 1-2-3) "