Learning Through Crying: Overcoming the Reality Gap in Management Strategy Education through Active Learning via a Complex Geo-Political Simulation

Jonathan Fanning, York Management School, University of York


The public image of a no-nothing consultant who enters companies and offers very
little useful help has a basis in reality. Many consultants and strategy educators do not have a firm grasp of the realities of “doing strategy” nor an understanding that the problems with strategy are not individual failings. These failings are caused by a lack of understanding of the economic theory of the declining rate of profit and the management models of technology as process and knowledge.

Having struggled for many years with the dichotomy of a course that is based on
research into the failings of management, specifically strategic management,
practice and education that was assessed by having students write the type of long and in depth report that is at the heart of the problem with many clearly emerging without a real understanding of the issues with strategy it was decided to make a dramatic change in approach.

Synthesis of these theories explains the basis of failing management education and consultancy and the development of an educational approach where students
actively compete in a simulation. Unusually for such a “game” it allows cooperation as well as competition and students are then assessed via reflection and negotiation with peers.

Students have voted with their feet, attendance is over 95% and approval ratings are above 90%.

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