Purpose – The overall purpose of this research is to increase understanding of the factors that promote the effective use of simulations in management education. Design/methodology/approach – This study uses data from 49 teams of respondents performing a management simulation exercise to achieve the research purpose. Respondents took part in the simulation in teams and were required to manage a business in the global athletic industry. Respondents completed a 21‐item instrument designed to assess individual learning. Learning was factor‐analyzed and three factors derived that correspond to problem‐solving skills, teamwork and seeing oneself as a manager. Measures were developed to assess team dynamic factors (emotional and task conflict), the user‐friendliness and realism of the simulation. Findings – The study showed that the nature of the simulation and team dynamics affected learning and performance. First, the extent to which users perceived the simulation as reflective of real life situations was positively associated with learning. Second, the ease of use of the simulation positively affected learning. Third, emotional conflict in the team was negatively associated with learning. Fourth, task conflict, measured by the degree of exchange of ideas, was positively associated with learning. Finally, the ease of use and task conflict in a team positively affected team performance, while emotional conflict had a negative relationship to team performance. Research limitations/implications – The research had some limitations. Reliance was placed on cross‐sectional data and a snapshot measure taken of performance and learning. In addition, respondents had fairly limited work experience and that may affect their perception of the simulation. This research can be extended by testing the model with managers with substantial years of experience. Including the role of game administrators may also yield greater insight. Practical implications – The study demonstrated that carefully choosing simulations could affect their effectiveness. The user‐friendliness and realism of the simulation are two important criteria. In addition, the findings indicate that those administering simulations with teams should pay attention to team dynamics. The findings also suggest that factors that affect individual learning may not necessarily affect performance on the simulation. This implies that game administrators need to define their objectives clearly. Originality/value – This study has increased understanding of the factors that determine the effectiveness of management simulations. The present research bridged some of the gaps in one's understanding by proposing and empirically testing factors that may lead to the identification of suitable management simulations. It also increased understanding of the situational dynamics that enhance the effective use of simulations. This study, as far is known, is the first to separate learning and performance as outcomes.
Journal of Management Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 2006
Keywords: Management development; Simulation; Learning
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