Using a Marketing Decision Simulation Game in MBA Marketing Courses: Effects of Group Behavior on Group and Individual Performance

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Leyland Pitt, Beedie School of Business

Project team: Karen Robson and Adam Mills, research assistants

Timeframe: May 2014 to April 2015

Funding: $5,000  

Courses addressed:

  • BUS 637 – Marketing Management
  • BUS 702 – Marketing Management
  • BUS 815 – Marketing of High-Tech Products

Final Report: View Leyland Pitt's final project report (PDF)

Description: Many courses taught at universities require students to work in groups on a wide array of projects and assignments that then form part of their final grades. At a simple level, a student’s final grade is therefore dependent on the abilities, work and contribution of her/his peers, so that students care about the quality of the interaction they have with group members. Simultaneously, instructors assign group work because of the fact that most students will interact with others, many of whom they might ideally not voluntarily choose to work with, on entering the job market. So, learning to work well in groups is a critical life skill. The quality of their work individually, and for the organization they work for, will also be affected by the quality of interaction they have with group members. Therefore the problem to be addressed by this research project is to determine the effects of group interaction on a group's performance in a computerized marketing decision simulation.

Computerized simulations are a feature of the marketing courses. Students in groups of 4 or 5 take the roles of marketing decision makers in running the marketing aspects of a fictitious firm. Groups compete against other groups in the class in a situation in which a computer simulates a relatively long period of business activity (2 to 3 years) in a relatively short time (8 to 10 classes). Group inputs are the independent variables in a simulation.  Outcomes are quantitative performance variables in the firm (e.g. cumulative profit, growth, market share, and customer satisfaction). The main advantage of these simulations is that students can experience the effects of real world decisions in a realistic environment without taking actual financial or material risks.  In this project, simulations will run in BUS 637, BUS 702 and BUS 815.

Questions addressed:

  • How does group cohesiveness predict performance?
  • How do social-emotional behavior and solution satisfaction within a group predict performance?
  • How does a group’s perceived quality of discussion predict performance?
  • How does communication apprehension of individuals within a group predict performance?

Knowledge sharing: I will prepare a summary paper of the results for dissemination within the Beedie School of Business. I will conduct a half-day workshop within the Beedie School of Business during which I will share the results of the study, explore how business simulation games can be used to enhance learning, as describe what teachers can do to help students function more effectively in groups.

Pitt, L., & Robson, K. (2016). Using a marketing decision simulation game in MBA marketing courses: Effects of group behavior on group and individual performance. Presentation at the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.

Robson, K., & Mills, A. (2016, May). Endings and beginnings: Transitioning to the first year of a tenure track job. Panel session at the Academy of Marketing Science Conference, Lake Buena Vista, FL.