Strategy Simulation in Experiential Learning: soft versus hard skill development
Serge Poisson - de HaroExperiential Learning Congress ESMT Berlin 25-26 November 2010
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?
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?
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)
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)
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
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
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
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…
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.
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
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.
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…
Contact Serge Poisson-de Haro Assistant Professor in Strategic Management HEC Montréal firstname.lastname@example.org www.hec.ca THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION.