Business Game Camp: Culmination of Management "Core" Phase

By Koji Haryu (M37)

On a southern shore of Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture, about 110km southwest of KBS campus, stands a tropical resort hotel overlooking a quiet bay. On Thursday, December 11th, the entire M37 class arrived to this seaside retreat, Shimoda Tokyu Hotel, to attend intense three-day "Business Game Camp" to cap management core subject studies. The goal of this annual camp is to integrate and solidify the knowledge students acquired through the management core courses. Although the 100-plus participants were already exhausted at the time of arrival, after days of sustained overwork for term papers that needed to be turned in by the day before, they engaged in heated discussions around-the-clock throughout the camp session.

At the camp, students honed their managerial skills to identify and solve management issues, through hands-on experience of a practical business simulation game.
The students who participated in the game were required to:
• Understand the complex rules of the business game and establish business flows,
• Recognize and improve profit/loss and cash flow situations,
• Understand the financial structure of their own companies,
• Establish competitive business models,
• Forecast changes in business environment and understand the turning points, and
• Make the right decisions at critical turning points in the course of management.

These diverse managerial tasks, encompassing tangible and intangible characteristics, required the students to repeatedly identify what the management issues were to find solutions. By repeating this process, the fundamental skills such as identifying and solving the management issues, were effectively enhanced.

The students were divided into 10 teams before the start of the game. Each team virtually established and operated a steel company, and the students had to play such managerial roles as managers of finance, marketing, production management, and so on. Quarterly financial period was the base unit, or "turn", in the game's sequence of events, and companies had to make decisions to stay in business each period. In addition, the panel of judges made of professors and teaching assistants served as the necessary complement to the game by playing the roles of banks, customers, newspapers, stock markets, and research firms.

Once the game started, teams had different strategies and outputs. Some teams were well-prepared and successfully managed their companies, while others struggled and fell behind the competition due to poor preparations or the lack of understanding of the rules. All in all, students took the game seriously and worked hard as if it was real, and felt very motivated in playing their roles.

Finally, teams made final presentations in plenary on January 6th to review key findings of the game. This review session helped students understand what each team learned from the camp experience, through discussions among the students and lecture from the professor. Some students said that they were so focused and worked hard during the camp that they cut down times for meals, sleeping, and bathing. It was an intense, extremely productive three days we all fully devoted to analyze, discuss, and negotiate to manage our "companies."

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