Strategy Simulation in Experiential Learning: soft versus hard skill development

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Presentation given by Serge Poisson - de Haro, HEC Montreal

Presentation given by Serge Poisson - de Haro, HEC Montreal

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  • 1. Serge Poisson - de HaroExperiential Learning Congress ESMT Berlin 25-26 November 2010
  • 2. Our inspiration Use of a competitive strategy simulation at the start of the MBA program at HEC Montréal. Four main goals:  “Live” decision-making process of a management team  Self-assessment of skills and experiences by students  Preview of content of MBA program  Team building effort - work together for next 12 weeks. Feedback of the students always ecstatic what is happening exactly?
  • 3. What is happening? What makes simulation so special?  Sense of reality  Enough illusion of reality to induce real world-like responses  Sense of enjoyment  Excellent feedback from students Good fit with strategic management objectives?
  • 4. Strategic management courseobjectives To integrate (usually used at end of MBA program) (Stephen, Parente, & Brown, 2002)  interdependent functional areas  analytical process that incorporates multiple perspectives To develop necessary skills needed to manage firms (Mintzberg & Gosling, 2002)
  • 5. Simulation instrategic management education Most realistic business decision-making environment possible in a classroom setting (Hornaday & Curran, 1996). Join together theory and various real world decisions, and encourage strategic thinking (Faria, 2001) Understand the integration of several functions of the firm in a bird’s eye view (Keys and Wolfe, 1990) Widely used (Wolfe & Luethge, 2003), but not as much as cases (Fowler & Scott, 1996)
  • 6. Why simulation is less widely used thancases? Overemphasis on analytical skills in MBA programs Learning is less related to professor performance Professor is expected to give continuous feedback Time and energy consuming
  • 7. More insights on our study! Hard versus soft skills (Wagner and Moffett, 2000)  Hard skills are linked to analytical decision making  Technical skills: knowlege in main disciplinary and functional areas of business  Conceptual skills: ability of problem solving
  • 8. More insights (Contd.) Hard versus soft skills  Soft skills are linked to dealing with human nature (Elmuti, 2004)  Human skills: people management and interpersonal skills (Helfhill and Nielsen, 2007)  Societal skills: dealing with issues surrounding the firm’s environment
  • 9. More insights (contd.) Conventionally accepted that simulations are useful tools in developing hard skills (Gunz, 1995) Less accepted that simulations are of use to soft skills development (Kachra and Schnietz, 2008)Something to explore…
  • 10. Constructs 1st Management Skillslevel 2nd Hard Management Skills Soft Management Skillslevel 3rd Technical skills Conceptual skills Human skills Societal skillslevel (H1A) (H1B) (H2A) (H2B) 4th Accounting/Finance (1Aa) Goal setting (1Ba) Helping (2Aa) Ethics (2Ba) Production/Logistics (1Ab) Action orientation (1Bb) Leadership (2Ab) Quality of worklife (2Bb)level Marketing/Sales (1Ac) Initiative taking (1Bc) Relationship (2Ac) Org.-env. fit (2Bc)
  • 11. Research Methodology Data: 200 MBA students representative of MBA students (high undergraduate GPAs, previous business experience and substantial GMAT scores) Instrument: use of internet questionnaire before starting and after finishing the simulation Constructs: measurement of the effectiveness of the simulation method in developing management skills by taking students’ perceptions before and after the use of the simulation.
  • 12. Research methodology (Contd.) Scale: 5-point Likert scale, 1 standing for minimum and 5 standing for maximum. Variables:  dependent variable: perception of simulation’s effectiveness  Independent variable: utilization of simulation  Control variables : previous business industry (CV1), educational background (CV2), gender (CV3) and ethics course (CV4) Method  Quantitative descriptive analysis and regression analyses/ANOVA for inferential purposes
  • 13. Preliminary results Before: some students tends to have no or mild opinions while others have very deep beliefs regarding ethics After: number of students at 3 level has diminished significantly whereas number of students at 2 or 4 level has increased (students with strong opinions before remains or increases). Going through the simulation seems to raise ethical awareness.
  • 14. Forthcoming Perform deeper analysis including questions on strategy and team behavior Repeat the study with more control variables (incl. ability to track student profile and teams) Implications: use of simulation at beginning or end of program create different dynamics of learning of soft and hard management skills. Students with science background perceive a greater learning in soft skills whereas students with a social science background perceive more hard skills development. Thank you! Welcome to your suggestions…
  • 15. Contact Serge Poisson-de Haro Assistant Professor in Strategic Management HEC Montréal serge.poissondeharo@hec.ca www.hec.ca THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION.