A Study on Using Simulations to Teach Marketing Management

Thanks to a formal study by Francis Blasco and Mario Martinez, it’s become clear that business simulation games make an effective way to train professional marketers. The study appeared under the full title “An Experiential Study of Business Simulation Games As A Marketing Learning Method.”

The business games used in this study were studied and tracked according to the MMTv6 model with advanced marketing learning programmes. Results for the use of simulations demonstrated that they deliver better results than conventional marketing management training techniques.

Business Games vs  Conventional Techniques

The study was based largely on the Theory of Experiential Learning by David Kolb. The point was to demonstrate that marketing managers exposed to business simulator games get a faster, more realistic and more hands-on training experience than those who are put through a training regimen based on traditional educational methods.

The study’s authors took the time to fully define and explore the role of simulations in training along with analysing their findings in significant depth and making it clear that business strategy games can play an immensely useful role in marketing training.

Experimental and the Control Groups

This study builds upon an already impressive body of work demonstrating the efficacy of simulations in marketing training. The study’s subjects were drawn from the Complutense University of Madrid‘s School of Information Sciences (the students in question were all fifth-year students of communications). Random participant selection ensured an unbiased starting point for all test subject groups. Learning retention was assessed via placement tests. The study’s experimental groups received learning tasks related to business games while the control groups were given traditional instruction.

Skill Set for Marketing Managers

The study’s authors noted that there is a specific and definable skill set required for marketing managers to do their work effectively. The informed ability to analyse people, projects and situations they faced in their work was especially important. Decision-making and problem-solving skills were found to be especially important.

Other important skills managers need to cultivate include interpersonal communication skills, a facility for building relationships and a strong ability to work with teams. Employing business simulation games in an educational context proved to be effective at improving all of these skills according to the testing methodology employed by the study.

The results derived from the experimental groups were verified using the SPSSv14 process. After being verified, these results strongly confirmed the study’s basic hypothesis. The test participants’ ability to solve problems was assessed by measuring the simulated profits accrued by the company based on students’ strategy game decisions. The efficacy of students’ solutions was judged by directly comparing total profits generated.

Experimental Group vs the Control Group

Where the control groups without simulated training generated profits of roughly 554 million, the experimental groups using simulation games generated profits of 825 million.

Another notable result of the study was that participants in the experimental groups rated the training received higher than the students in the control groups did. Improvements in acquired knowledge (as measured by a comparison of pre and post-training tests) from the groups using simulations games were also greater in the experimental groups.

Assessments were conducted according to “Perception of Learning” principles which measured both reflexive observation and abstract conceptualisation. Students in the experimental groups demonstrated a positive growth between their initial and final tests in these areas.

In the non-game-using control groups, students only showed improvement in testing sections concerning information organisation. Student responses were poor when asked to build and test new conceptual models or to design experiments. Positive gains attached to traditional instructional methods were only seen in the area of applying already-established theories.

Taken as a whole, the study’s results establish a marked contrast between the performance of the control and experimental results that can be attributed to the specific instructional methods they were exposed to.

The skills and abilities required to become an effective marketing manager can be best developed using simulations according to Kolb’s experiential learning methods.

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