Innovative Business Simulation Cooperation: Management Essentials with Students and Trainees

Management Essentials with Students and Trainees

In the world of education, the use of business simulations has become an integral part of learning processes. Business games are very popular due to their realistic simulation of entrepreneurial challenges and the resulting high learning value. We recently had the pleasure of working with Verw.-Prof. Dr. Regina Ahlbrecht from the HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen and Simone Kaiser-Sill from the logistics service provider ZUFALL logistics group, who used our beginner-friendly business simulation Management Essentials. This cooperation resulted in a fascinating learning experience for the HAWK students and the ZUFALL trainees.

Background and General Conditions

The use of TOPSIM business simulations is nothing new for Verw.-Prof. Dr. Ahlbrecht. Since 2013, she has been using business simulations such as Management Essentials for first-year students and Mastering General Management for upper-level students in her courses. For Simone Kaiser-Sill, it was the first time that she had taken the lead in running a business simulation. The idea for the cooperation came about as part of the joint project Future Skills. Applied. In this project, six universities of applied sciences in Lower Saxony work together to prepare students for an increasingly digitalized working and living environment with suitable teaching and learning concepts. Cooperation with companies helps to achieve this goal.

Topics Covered Management Essentials with HAWK and ZUFALL

The Special Feature: The Implementation as a One-Day Event 

An innovative idea was to run the simulation in just one day. Inspired by Prof. Dr. Max Monauni’s rousing presentation of his Night Challenge at the TOPSIM Business Simulation Congress 2022, Verw.-Prof. Dr. Ahlbrecht decided on this event format. Although the business simulation did not take place at night, but from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., the event character provided an additional attraction. In total, four of the six possible Management Essentials simulation periods were played. Participants had only three-quarters of an hour to make their decisions in each period. This kept the tension high and the participants had to weigh which calculations were worthwhile and which decisions should be made intuitively.

Participants and Goals 

The participants had different levels of prior knowledge. The students were in the first semester of their bachelor’s degree in business administration and engineering, while the trainees had previous knowledge from vocational school and a course in finance and accounting. Providing participants with practical knowledge, making complex decisions tangible, and providing basic insights into different functional areas were the goal of the business simulation. In addition, the cooperation between the university and the company should have long-term benefits for both sides. For example by recruiting students for internships at ZUFALL or trainees for studies at the HAWK.

Implementation and Challenges

The simulation took place in person and was conducted in mixed teams, with the grouping carefully planned to ensure a balanced mix of students and trainees. Participants met one afternoon to make decisions and evaluations. During the game, the seminar instructors had to pay special attention to organizational aspects such as parallel events or technical equipment to ensure that everything ran smoothly for the participants. The user-friendly operation of the TOPSIM-Cloud also facilitated the implementation.

Good preparation for a business simulation seminar is essential. However, TOPSIM’s cloud solution simplifies the technical aspects in particular. In the past, for example, transferring the results was always very time-consuming. The TOPSIM-Cloud solves this problem in an ingenious way. I therefore don’t miss the offline versions of the business simulations in any way.Verw.-Prof. Dr. Regina Ahlbrecht, HAWK

Lessons Learned and Outlook 

The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. Both students and trainees enjoyed the simulation game and benefited from the hands-on learning experience and knowledge exchange. The seminar leaders are already planning further events with TOPSIM business simulations. They see great potential for future cooperation between universities and companies. 

Overall, the cooperation project with our Management Essentials simulation was a complete success and underlines the potential of business games in modern teaching. The interactive approach teaches important skills and strengthens cooperation between educational institutions and companies.


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