Business Simulations in Practice: TOPSIM – General Management at the International Business Week Zweibrücken

In March 2020, the International Business Week took place at the Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences. Since 2010, Prof. Dr. Christian Armbruster gives students the opportunity to learn in a gamified way and make international contacts. Our TOPSIM – Business Simulations support this project.

The International Business Weeks have been around for over 20 years. Within a week, students and lecturers from the fields of international business, accounting and finance from different countries take part. There are International Business Weeks in around 13 partner universities in Europe, from Portugal to the Netherlands and Greece.

During the week students participate in an academic program, usually with case studies or a business simulation, and can exchange ideas in an international environment. Most of the students are in their fourth semester and for many this Business Week is the first experience abroad.

How did the International Business Week go?

The week started in Zweibrücken with a presentation of the university as well as an introduction to the business simulation TOPSIM – General Management, which the students played through the whole week. Getting to know each other was the focus of the first day – because the teams that play the business simulation together are as heterogeneous as possible. Due to the Corona crisis, there were only 22 participating students this year, in the previous years up to 40 students took part.

From Tuesday to Friday, students played severals periods of the business simulation and participate in different socializing activities . This usually includes visiting a company to establish the connection between the business simulation and the ‘real’ world. Unfortunately, this had to be cancelled this year due to the corona. A final presentation and handing out the certificates rounded off the International Business Week in Zweibrücken.

Source: Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences

Why TOPSIM – Business Simulations?

TOPSIM – General Management is always played in English during the International Business Week. However, the majority of the students have a different first language, so everyone has to make an effort to communicate as clearly as possible. This inhibits barriers between the different team members and improves the soft skills of the players. The students thus developed skills that are also needed later in professional life.

After each simulated year the instructors held an evaluation of the results and the teams received feedback, which they could use to make better decisions in the next period. In addition to the business simulations, the groups presented a corporate strategy for their company.

The focus should be on fun and social activities, but there is also a rating for the week. The participation in the business simulaton, the presentation of the strategy and a project work afterwards result in 5 ECTS for the module “International Business Week” at the university. Foreign students were also assessed for their performance during the week.

International Business Week – great experience for everyone!

The business simulation offers a good framework for the week because it promotes communication and seminar instructors can easily integrate additional tasks. Through this week, the students gained a lot of experience in an international atmosphere, the business simulations reduced social hurdles and at the same time offered the opportunity to work with typical business issues.

The feedback from the participants is consistently positive, also from the foreign partners. For the areas of finance and accounting, TOPSIM – General Management corresponds to exactly the right level of standards. However, Prof. Armbruster has a tip for everyone who is also planning an international cooperation: It always makes sense to work with the colleagues at the partner universities beforehand, perhaps to play a test round to get to know the system and the interface.

We would like to thank Prof. Armbruster for the consistently positive feedback on the use of the simulation and look forward to further simulation-based seminars at the Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences.

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