The modern business world is increasingly complex, global, and dynamic. Preparing business students for success in this environment requires the use of teaching methods that build critical thinking skills in realistic situations. Simulation is one teaching tool that can be used to support this goal by mimicking the reality, through physical or computer-based models, in a controlled, complex, and collaborative setting. Apart from providing domain-specific knowledge, simulation can increase students’ interest and motivation, help them understand complex cause-effect relationships and develop leadership skills (Lainema & Lainema, 2007; Cronan & Douglas, 2011; Siewioreck, Saarinen, Lainema, & Lehtinen, 2012). This study explores the use of simulation in business education, in general, and in the information systems (IS) discipline, in particular, through a literature review. We conducted a search of major bibliographical databases for articles containing “simulation,” “business” and “education” in the abstract, resulting in 122 relevant papers, published from 1995 to 2014. Three authors and a research assistant read and coded the articles (categories included year published, journal, business discipline, simulation type, simulation procedure and software (if any), pedagogical purpose, participants, etc.). We found that simulation is used as a teaching tool in many business disciplines, including Management, Accounting, Marketing, IS, and others, for both basic and advanced problems in introductory and specialized courses. General business education and management education journals are the most popular publication outlets (at 41% and 23% of the sample, respectively), with accounting, marketing and IS education journals being much less popular. In particular, we find only a very small number of IS education papers reporting on simulation (only 9 Journal of Information Systems Education papers and 1 Journal of Computer Information Systems paper). Most IS papers focus on enterprise resource planning simulation; a few describing project management, ethics, and virtual market simulations. Many IS curricular areas (Topi, Valacich, Wright, Kaiser, Nunamaker, Sipior, & de Vreede, 2010) that could benefit from simulation, such as IS strategy, management and acquisition, systems analysis and design, audit, or security, are not represented. Based on examples from other disciplines, we offer suggestions for remedying this situation and recommendations for developing IS teaching simulations to support the development of important skills included in the IS curriculum models (such as analyzing trade-offs, managing ongoing operations, leadership and collaboration, negotiation, analytical and critical thinking, ethics, etc.).
Cronan, T. P., and Douglas, D. E. (2012). A student ERP simulation game: a longitudinal study, Journal of Computer Information Systems, 53(1), 3-13.
Lainema, T., & Lainema, K. (2007). Advancing acquisition of business know-how: critical learning elements. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40(2), 183-198.
Siewiorek, A., Saarinen, E., Lainema, T., & Lehtinen, E. (2012). Learning leadership skills in a simulated business environment. Computers & Education, 58(1), 121-135.
Topi, H., Valacich, J. S., Wright, R. T., Kaiser, K. M., Nunamaker, J. F., Sipior, J. C., & de Vreede, G. J. (2010). IS 2010 Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Information Systems. Association for Computing Machinery and Association for Information Systems, Retrieved August 1, 2015 from http://www.acm.org/education/curricula/IS2010ACMfinal.pdf.
Recommended Citation: Chircu, A., Saraswat, S., Anderson, D., (2015). Simulation in Business Education: A Literature Review . Proceedings of the EDSIG Conference, (2015) n.3604, Wilmington, NC