An Exploration of the Emergence of Process Prototypes in a Management Course Utilizing a Total Enterprise Simulation

S. Dolly Malik, Daniel R. Strang

Abstract


Traditionally, total enterprise simulations (TES) have been used in strategic management courses because TES generally require an integration of knowledge of business functions in order to comprehend the purpose of the TES. It has also been assumed that use of TES increases conceptual learning (for a review, see Malik and Howard, 1996). However, when this assumption has been empirically tested, the results are equivocal (see Anderson and Lawton, 1997; Gentry and Burns, 1997; Gosen and Washbush, 1997). These findings have forced researchers to re-examine the use of TES and several different directions of research have developed. One of these directions is examining the learning of process issues, particularly participant behavior, which occur while subjects engage in the simulation process (Corner and Nicholls, 1997). However, since more TES are assigned in strategic management classes, there has not been a great deal of focus on the organizational/managerial processes which evolve as a function of participation in a TES situation. Recently, researchers have been focusing their attention on some group process variables (e.g., Wellington and Faria, 1996; Markulis and Strang, 1995). The findings of these studies suggest that this avenue of research might be a rich one when the ultimate criteria for examining the effectiveness of TES is the amount of increase in learning. This paper attempts to tie the strategic management focus of most TES with the organizational/managerial processes that emerge as a function of participating in a TES. Specifically, this paper examines whether group processes help enhance the implementation of specific strategic management principles and, thereby, making the learning more process-oriented.

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