Strategy Planning via Computer

Chas. A. Barclay (
Sat, 19 Nov 1994 10:46:27 -1000

A year ago our dept's strategy professors composed of many more
experienced individuals than myself, most with PhD's, met several
times in an effort to improve our capstone course and reduce
variation in the course content.

The topic of computer simulations came up early since one of our
professors was one of the first to develop such a game (Multinational
Managemetn Game). I listened to everyother Business Policy &
Strategy professor (all tenured or tenure track) list & discuss the
virtues of these games. I waited until they were all done and seemed
in general agreement that it was the appropriate thing to require in
this class. The chair of the committee asked my opinion.

I started out by saying I was the only one in this group to have
played such a game for a grade. I described the game I played
briefly, The Airline Industry Simulation. I described what the three
& four person teams went through to make their decisions including
sifting through the trashed notes of competitors after their
meetings. I then told them how our team finally won the game. We
had a team members spouse crack the program's codes and outline the
algorithms used to calculate stock price. We then made those
decisions that would affect our stock price and carefully plied our
opponents with disinformation. With 3 Fiscal Quarters remaining in
the game we went from 6th place to first.

I then stated that the algorithms were based on person's view of how
industry competition works, and what drives consumer behaviro and
financial performance. I then asked if any of the other professors
knew of anyone who could model those issues definitively. Before
resting the case in that meeting I then asked, "Why do you think you
want to insist on teaching studnets how to play a game that has
ill-defined models of unknown & intertwining complexity?"

The computer simulations did not make it into our required curriculum
but out of deference it was maintained that the committee suggested
"simulation games are a useful means of supporting strategic

I strongly suggest avoiding any class teaching strategy by

Charles Barclay 2404 Maile Way
Dept. of Mgmt & Ind Relations Honolulu, HI 96822
University of Hawaii Fax: 808 956-2774 Phone: 808 956-8545

BTW, "It's the policies & philosophy, Mr. President!"