Strategic Management with TOPSIM – Going Global in the Bavarian Alps

Hochschule Muenchen TOPSIM Einsatz

Corporate management and decision making – as part of various seminars for students at Munich University of Applied Sciences (HM), professors Prof. Dr. Christian Greiner, Prof. Dr. Dominik Hammer and Prof. Dr. Thomas Peisl use TOPSIM – Going Global. In this article we explain why this seminar is conducted high up in the mountains.

We have been using business games in our university teaching for over 20 years. TOPSIM – General Management is regularly used in the courses of the Faculty of Business Administration at our university. Since 2008 we have added TOPSIM – Global Management (offline version) to our portfolio, since four years TOPSIM – Going Global.

This simulation is used by Prof. Peisl and Prof. Greiner both in the Master of Business Informatics and in the MBA at FOM Munich, where both teach the Management Decision Making module.

Internationalization and globalization are central economic factors of any economic system.

In order to pass on this guiding principle to the students, the professors specifically use the business game TOPSIM – Going Global. In TOPSIM – Going Global, players deal with the challenges of an international market. Due to its advanced complexity, the simulation is designed for higher semesters in the Bachelor’s or Master’s program and is ideally suited for training learning content from the field of strategic management.

Decision-making in the middle of the Bavarian Alps

It is mostly Master’s students who take part in these extraordinary seminars. The seminar takes place several times a semester for three days in block format at the Mitteralm on the Wendelstein or the Brünnensteinhaus in the middle of the Bavarian Alps. Block format is meant quite literally here – after all, the students spend their simulation seminar together in a hut in the mountains. Together with the mountain school Blue Mountain Spirit from Bad Feilnbach, the groups then set off on their Management Decision Making adventure. According to an MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), they are put together in teams of four as diversely as possible. After all, the main focus of the seminar is not on the best share price of one’s own virtual company; rather, it is also about leadership and team building.

During the seminar, participants have a variety of tasks and challenges in addition to the business game. The students simulate the periods of TOPSIM – Going Global in groups and regularly evaluate their decisions in a short elevator pitches. The topic of leadership is then put into practice in a very practical way. To do this, they go out into nature. With the support of professional mountain guides from Blue Mountain Spirit, the students can experience their own courage, for example on a rope walkway or on a climbing wall at dizzy heights. The teams must make alpine decisions, sometimes under time pressure, and be able to assess their partners according to their strengths and weaknesses. Of course, this is all done under constant supervision and safety by alpine professionals – so that everyone arrives back at the hut in good health.

It is not about winning the simulation

In this seminar, the business game TOPSIM – Going Global is not the main objective, but rather the means to an end. The focus is on making decisions logically and goal-oriented and understanding the processes behind them. For this reason, there is no winning team according to the share price. Nevertheless, the teams should internalize not only leadership skills but also the theoretical contents of the business game. TOPSIM – Going Global helps students to understand the methods and instruments of internationalization and enables them to think outside the box.

Students can achieve 5 ECTS with this seminar. However, it is not the simulation result that is graded, but the reflective seminar paper afterwards. In 8000 words per team (2000 per group member), the students should prepare a reflection:

  • What was the state of the company in period 0?
  • What happened in the periods that followed?
  • What was the decision-making process like, especially in terms of team dynamics?
  • Has the MBTI changed compared to the beginning of the week? If yes, how and why?

Both supervisors and students are convinced by the holistic concept of the seminar. Such intensive group work, which is achieved in combination with the outdoor Alpine Risk Management, would not be possible in a seminar room in such a short time. The seminar is a real experience module, which absolutely inspires the students. The management theories combined with gamified learning and the integration into the context of leadership concepts are eye-openers. Learning by doing is emphasized in this seminar.

We would like to thank the team for the insight into this extraordinary seminar concept and wish them every success for further adventures in the mountains! Here are a few more impressions from the past seminars (source: Prof. Dr. Thomas Peisl):

Mastering Business Operations at the Hochschule Bremen

Mastering Business Operations at the Hochschule Bremen

Prof. Dr. Stephan Form from Hochschule Bremen plays our challenging management simulation Mastering Business Operations with bachelor students in the 7th semester. Before the students take over the management of a company, they evaluate data sets from previously completed “Mastering Business Operations” games using business intelligence tools.

Holistic Teaching with Mastering General Management at ISC Paris

Holistic Teaching with Mastering General Management at ISC Paris

Since 2011, playing our business simulation “Mastering General Management” has been an integral part of the studies for the MBA and Master students of ISC Paris. The goals of the seminar are to develop an understanding of the “big picture” and to promote communication skills in the team through playful application and specific assistance from the professor.