Studying international business usually means gaining experience abroad. Unfortunately, Covid 19 changed the plans for the students at DHBW Stuttgart and their trip abroad in the fourth semester was cancelled. For this reason, the Center for Management Simulations organized a substitute for the international exchange and found it in a simulation-based seminar together with the Escuela Universitaria de Ingeniería Dual in northern Spain.
International Teamwork on Three Markets
On May 3 and 4, a total of 51 students played the five periods of TOPSIM – Going Global. In an online seminar on Zoom, they were divided into teams of 4 people each, with attention paid to teams setup, so that two German and two Spanish students played together. In total, there were three markets with five companies each. The special feature: One team consisted entirely of professors and employees from Spain who, like their students, had no previous contact with business games. Thanks to the supervision of two seminar instructors per market, some of whom also spoke Spanish, communication hurdles and other problems were easily solved.
Thanks to Zoom and a virtual whiteboard, everything worked out technically. Nevertheless, the business game was a bit of a challenge. On the one hand, for the participants from Stuttgart the seminar took place just before the exams and increased time pressure. For the students from Spain, the future engineers had had little contact with business administration beforehand. But the international teamwork worked wonderfully and promoted interdisciplinary cooperation across faculty boundaries.
Virtual Coffee Chat
To liven up the whole seminar, the students were asked to introduce themselves to each other at the beginning using profiles. With speed dating rounds, there was time for interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange and participants talked about hobbies or future travel plans. In addition, at the end of the day there was a world café at four virtual tables where the students could exchange information about how the teamwork went and where problems or challenges were. The cultural exchange was thus not neglected despite the physical distance.
Why TOPSIM – Going Global?
TOPSIM – Going Global was an excellent choice for an international management seminar. It is neither too easy nor too complex, but perfectly reflects the future professional field of many students of International Business. It shows how challenging it is to enter another market and manage the different production facilities. For the students from Spain who came from the engineering field, the versatile decisions within the game also made the seminar participation worthwhile.
“Making decisions in a complex realistic environment in the face of uncertainty trains the skills you need in the business and working world of today and tomorrow. In addition, there were intercultural and language differences that made teamwork challenging.”
In the end, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. A mentimeter word cloud showed that even if the students were still a little uncertain at the beginning of the simulation and felt overwhelmed by the simulation, curiosity and the fun of the challenge prevailed in the end. The active participation in the seminar was rewarded with 3 ECTS.
We would like to thank Dipl. oec. Birgit Zürn and her colleague Dipl. Betriebsw. Isabella Fischer for the insight into the business game seminar and look forward to future – virtual or present – formats.