In the 2021/22 winter semester, Prof. Dr. Mike Schulze, Vice Dean and Professor of Controlling, Accounting and Financial Management at the CBS International Business School at the Mainz campus, introduced TOPSIM – Scale Up for the first time. The students from various CBS master’s courses benefited from the mix of different professional orientations and competence profiles of the course participants during their participation in the simulation-based seminar. Due to the compliance with the 3G rule, Prof. Dr. Schulze was able to conduct his courses not only exclusively online, but also in classroom format or hybrid.
Learning Success through Interdisciplinarity
Prof. Dr. Schulze has been using TOPSIM – General Management and TOPSIM – Going Global in his teaching for several years now and has achieved great learning success among the students. He has been interested in TOPSIM – Scale Up since the first beta versions and is particularly enthusiastic about the current thematic focus of the business simulation, as the students are very interested in topics such as digitalization, business model innovation and sustainability.
In addition, TOPSIM – Scale Up is particularly well suited for cross-curricular teaching, as the participants bring different perspectives to the decision-making rounds and the entrepreneurial orientation. The participation in the two courses “Management Simulation Game” was intended for three different courses of study. One of the two courses was held on a part-time basis, where students are pursuing a professional activity alongside their studies. This course consisted of the study programs “Strategisches Management & Consulting”, “Controlling & Finanzmanagement” and “General Management”.
The second course was aimed at full-time students from the degree programs “Personal- und Changemanagement”, “Marketing Management” and “General Management”. In managing the virtual company, the students not only met the expectations of their different role profiles but were also able to learn a lot from each other in terms of cross-disciplinary knowledge.
The students act in the role of the company’s executive board and must map different role profiles within the teams. While Marketing Management students, for example, like to take on the role of Chief Marketing Officer, Controlling & Financial Management students prefer to be responsible for financial-related decisions. Thus, TOPSIM – Scale Up offers the perfect setting for students from different courses of study.
Corporate Management under Realistic Conditions
24 students, operating in five teams, took part in the full-time course. The part-time course was attended by 18 students who formed four teams. All students were in the 3rd semester of their respective master’s degree programs. In the first four teaching units, Prof. Dr. Schulze introduced the students to the initial scenario and the decision-making options of TOPSIM – Scale Up as part of a briefing and instructed them in the use of the TOPSIM – Cloud. This was followed by 18 teaching units in which the teams faced the challenges of the simulation game and made decisions together. Six further teaching units were used for presentations.
The sixth and final period of the business simulation was already played before the presentations, but not yet evaluated, as the students were supposed to view the presentations as fictitious shareholder meetings. In order to make these as realistic as possible, the teams presented not only a review but also a forecast of their future company development. In this way, the students learned how to deal with the high-pressure situation of board members and to meet the expectations of forecasting as accurately as possible. As part of the presentations, the students presented their agenda for the next financial years, drew attention to problematic decisions in corporate management and presented their learning achievements.
The grading was primarily based on the quality of the presentations in terms of content and form. The final share price of the companies, on the contrary, only accounted for 10% of the grade, as the students should not be encouraged to act with as little risk as possible. The business game was thus conducted under particularly realistic conditions.
Blended Learning through a Sophisticated Hygiene Concept
While the course for the part-time students took place exclusively online, around 60-70% of the full-time students took the opportunity to come to the campus. They were also offered participation via the software Zoom, with the voluntary option to participate in face-to-face classes being very popular. The face-to-face sessions were made possible by CBS’s hygiene concept.
The students’ recovery, vaccination or testing status was checked by scanners at the entrance areas. This also made it possible to track which students were on campus at what time. The students also registered themselves with QR codes in their respective lecture rooms. In addition to the mask requirement, the physical distancing rules were also enforced throughout the campus. These measures minimized health risks and fulfilled the students’ desire for more face-to-face lectures.
Prof. Dr. Schulze will also offer a simulation game seminar in the 2022 summer semester. He will use TOPSIM – Startup for the first time in the Financial Management master’s degree. We thank him for his experience report and wish him and his students lots of fun and success with the TOPSIM business games!