D. Rushton1, N. Wilmot1, C. Metselaar2, A. Docter2

1Sheffield Hallam University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2Imason-Human Business Development (NETHERLANDS)
This paper discusses the rationale and impact of collaboration between a UK University and a People Development Consultancy in the Netherlands. The collaboration involved the pedagogical use of Pengaruh, a traditional Indonesian board game, to support students in their learning of the Trust/Leadership Equation and skill acquisition of working collaboratively in cross cultural teams.

According to Tompson and Dass (2000) business games are effective alternatives to traditional teaching. Games have a unique potential to engage students in collaborative activities, and the nature of Pengaruh required collaborative thinking by students in order to maximise the “team’s utility” (Zagal et al 2006). However, collaborative games are rare and extraordinarily difficult to design (Zagal et al 2006). Development of quality games for business education needs content expertise, hence the collaboration.

Given the importance of trust in social relations in organisations, we elected to use Pengaruh in order to demonstrate to students how trust is situational. This enabled them to learn about what makes them trust others, and the behaviours they engage in which makes others trust them. For decades, trust has been identified as a key factor in social relations. Apart from its intrinsic value, it is said to improve efficiency and cooperation in organizations by encouraging information sharing, increasing openness and reducing the need for detailed contractual and monitoring devices. According to Zeffane, Tipu and Ryan (2011), there is a significant correlation between the level of trust as experienced by respondents and the perceived quality of communication with their superiors. Trust is also seen as a key contributor to organizational success in contexts of high ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity. According to the Center for Creative Leadership (2011) "we are living in a VUCA world, one characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, and will be for years to come." It is this environment which current business students will graduate into, thus demonstrating the importance of possessing skills which enable them to operate effectively in such an environment.

We therefore believe that when it comes to learning about trust, it makes sense not to immediately focus on training some of the skills related to these factors, but to focus on first understanding which factors in a particular situation, related to a particular task, help to increase trust or lead to the decrease of trust. In particular when participants in a learning group come from different cultural backgrounds, identifying what is important to the individual matters the most. However, when people are new to the concept of trust, an introductory widely accepted model to breakdown the general concept of trust, is helpful. With regard to the board-game, Pengaruh, we developed to learn about leadership and trust; we choose to work with the Trust Equation, developed by Maister, Green and Galford, because it has proven to be sustainable since its initial development in 2000.

In the paper we detail how we used Pengaruh with students of International Business at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. We explore the benefits of this intervention from our perspective and from our students’ point of view, and we offer guidelines for others who may wish to use games in higher education based on our experience.