Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schneider from Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences (UAS) has been using TOPSIM business simulations in his teaching since 2008. In the module “Corporate Learning and Innovation” he plays our popular management simulation Mastering General Management. A total of 30 transnational master’s students from Bielefeld UAS and TGU Istanbul participate in the course. The students learn how to successfully manage a medium-sized manufacturing company and how to deal with large amounts of information in a structured way. Through intercultural collaboration, they also gain valuable experience in the use of digital media and results-oriented communication within the teams.
In 2020, the cooperation project started, in which students from the degree programs Personalmanagement und Organisation (“Human Resources Management and Organization”, FH Bielefeld) and International Business Management (TDU Istanbul) can put their management skills to the test. “Mastering General Management” is particularly well suited to the “Corporate Learning and Innovation” module, as the new development and launch of a new product play an important role in the business simulation. Participants take part in mixed teams of about four students each. The course takes place exclusively online. This enables the students to network with each other and organize their meetings regardless of location. They also practice the use of digital media and the exchange in English.
Mastering General Management helps students to get to know the learning and innovation level of a company. The TOPSIM – Cloud also enables virtual mobility, as the business simulation can be used regardless of location. Transnational students thus learn to use digital media and to cooperate interculturally.
Procedure and Planning Guide
First, the students receive the participant manual and an introduction by the seminar leader. In addition, guest lectures by innovation managers give them authentic insights into the real conditions on the market. The participants then play a total of four periods of “Mastering General Management”. In each period, they have one week to make their decisions. During the decision-making phase, they are supported by coaches – experienced students from higher semesters who are already familiar with the business simulation.
The coaches clarify questions and give tips, such as using the planning guide in the TOPSIM – Cloud. It supports participants in assessing whether they are making sensible decisions about financing and their company’s internal processes. According to Prof. Dr. Schneider, the use of the planning guide induces a great learning effect and sharpens their view of the reporting system. However, students should be aware that external influences such as the decisions of the competition and changes in the market are not taken into account by the planning guide.
At the end of the course, the teams are graded based on a presentation. They present their research and development reports (R&D reports) and reflect on their decisions during the business simulation. In addition, four assessment parameters are included in the grading, which reflect their performance. These include employee productivity, customer satisfaction, share price and economic value added (EVA). Experience has shown that students take their decisions more seriously when they are graded. However, the focus is on the learning effect, which is why daring strategies that do not always lead to the desired result are by no means punished with bad grades. The use of business simulations is primarily intended to motivate participants, stimulate thought processes and create practical learning experiences.
Book Recommendation: „Betriebswirtschaftliche Unternehmensführung“
In their book Betriebswirtschaftliche Unternehmensführung (“Business Administration”) Prof. Dr. Schneider and Prof. Dr. Burchert propose further grading methods, exam tasks and seminar forms with “Mastering General Management”. The content is primarily aimed at students to prepare them for business simulation seminars and exams. However, the book also supports seminar leaders in conducting business simulation seminars with a variety of suggestions regarding the structure and grading. Find out more in our book recommendation.¹
Prof. Dr. Schneider is currently planning further cooperation projects with international universities, in which students from different countries work together and face the challenges of our business simulations. We would like to thank him for the exciting insights into his transnational teaching with “Mastering General Management” and look forward to further reports on his experiences!
¹ Burchert, H. & Schneider, J. (2021). Betriebswirtschaftliche Unternehmensführung: Aufgaben und Lösungen zum TOPSIM-Planspiel General Management. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Oldenbourg. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110686111