Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 5362-5367
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Business management is a difficult field for structured research and systematic knowledge improvements, and in consequence, a difficult field to learn and teach. Some of the characteristics that confer this difficulty are the unstructured and complex problems, the diversity of the object under study, the great influence of the environment (markets, competitors, economy, laws, technology, etc.), the importance of social factors, the ever changing and turbulent environment, the amount of variables involved, the ambiguous relationships among variables, the variables involved difficult to measure and the multiple theoretical approaches and paradigms. The complexity of the problem under study, expressed in the great amount of variables that could play a determinant role in the failures or success of organizations, has led to the necessity to limit the variables to take into account, to confine the problem into some boundaries. Of course, there are areas in management where some specific problems are studied, such as marketing, operations, innovation, quality management, human resources, technology management, information systems, etc., and where learning can be more easily structured. But even for a more general study of the firm, the splitting of the problem is an unavoidable issue. This explains the division of the business administration field related to the theory of the firm into a variety of paradigms or schools where organizations are studied under some specific point of view (resource-based view, transaction cost approach, behavioural theory, etc.).

Besides, basic competencies like leadership, team work or entrepreneurship can not be learnt following a traditional lecturing method. The PBL in this case can play an important role. The problem-based learning was conceived as simplified problems that are complicated during the course in order to approach to real life problems, “a process of inquiry and analysis where the students acquire the knowledge they need in order to solve a complex problem”. In these problems, the students must apply the different approaches and views studied, adapting them to the specific case under study and its contingencies, creating an eclectic solution. This will let contextualize the theories to the real world and how can be applied and their limitations and values, posing difficult problems to a team of students that must work in team.

The project here presented deals with the use of Problem Based Learning (PBL) in Business management teaching. The paper is structured like the phases of the project that has as objective the improvement of the teaching of two business management subjects, operations management and strategic management, of the degree in tourism. First, an analysis of the more common and current methods used in Business management is commented, specially the case method. Its advantages and possible deficiencies are examined. Then, the advantages and drawbacks of the introduction of PBL in the teaching of the subject is analysed. Third, the advisable extend of the PBL use and how the PBL must be adapted to the peculiarities of the subject are assessed, basing this assessment in the objectives searched. Fourth, the details of the operativization of the method and the main problems found are cited. Finally, the concusions and lessons learnd are presented.
Business management, problem-based learning.