Univesitat Rovira i Virgili (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 5815-5826
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Business games are learning methods which simulate a business context through a software program. Business games allow players make decisions in teams regarding different functional areas of a company and compete with other players representing other companies (Carroll, 1958; Faria and Dickinson, 1994).

The literature has recognised the great value of this method in enhancing the learning process of participants (Zantow et al., 2005). The main benefits identified by research are the active participation, the immediate feedback and the students’ enjoyment and motivation (Zantow et al., 2005; Fu et al., 2009). In addition to these valuable characteristics, the literature also describes the skills, knowledge and competences that these learning methods boost (Curry and Moutinho, 1992; Faria and Dickinson, 1994; Doyle and Brown, 2000; Jensen, 2003). However, as noted by Feinstein and Cannon (2002: 425) “although for more than 40 years, researchers have lauded the benefits of simulation, very few of these claims are supported with substantial research”. Thus, further research is needed in order to identify and justify the competences fostered by business games, and to evaluate these learning methods from the viewpoint of the participating students, rather than relying on the instructors’ impressions (Chang et al., 2003).

According to the literature, business games are most useful in high-level courses for participants with managerial profile (Rachman-Moore and Kenett, 2006). However, it remains some questions regarding the effectiveness of business games in students without business management background, for example: How useful would business games be to students who do not hold a degree in business administration, and who have not necessarily received basic training in management? Would business games be just as effective for such students? Would they strengthen the same skills and competences, or different ones? etc.

The main objective of this study is to identify the main characteristics of a business game and to evaluate its effectiveness to improve generic and management-specific competences, in a group of entrepreneurs without a managerial profile.

The research was conducted online with a group of 32 entrepreneurs divided into 11 teams, competing in the mobile phone sector. The business game utilized was Global Challenge which allows decision-making on different functional areas. Data was collected by interviews and questionnaires which assessed 17 generic competences, 14 management-specific competences and 7 characteristics of the game, graded in a 5-point-Likert scale.

The results of this study show very positive values on some generic and specific competences boosted by the game, such as decision-making; understanding a business, its mission and its goals; and analysing financial information. Regarding the characteristics of the game, the participants gave the highest scores for enjoyment and active participation of players. The findings also show that business games possess certain weaknesses with regard to management-specific competences, so they would need to be complemented by other methodologies and educational experiences in students without a managerial profile.
business games, competences, entrepreneurs, management profile, decision?.