American Journal of Industrial and Business Management, 2013, 3, 589-594
Published Online November 2013 (
Open Access AJIBM
Methodology to Select the Best Business Game in Higher
María Romero Cuadrado1, Milagros Gutiérrez Fernández2
1Spanish Distance Learning University, Madrid, Spain; 2University of Extremadura, Extremadura, Spain.
Email:, mgutierrezf@unex,es
Received October 4th, 2013; revised November 4th, 2013; accepted November 11th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 María Romero Cuadrado, Milagros Gutiérrez Fernández. This is an open access article distributed under the Crea-
tive Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
Business simulators are frequently used in higher education for its pedagogical importance. The purpose of this survey
is to know the opinion of the faculty staff regarding certain aspects of the game they use in their teaching, using the
Macbeth (Measuring Attractiveness by a Category Based Evaluation Technique) approach. This research is supported in
the multi-criteria analysis to obtain a classification of several simulation games in the role of its educational features.
The methodology establishes a hierarchical order that will allow determining the optimum simulator valuing its peda-
gogical efficiency.
Keywords: Higher Education; Business Games; Decision Making; Pedagogical Features; MACBETH
1. Introduction
Business games are frequently used in higher education
for its pedagogical importance. Also its dynamism and
competitiveness make them a credible learning method,
reflecting reality, in which business decisions are affec-
ted, within many factors, fo r its competitors [1]. Such cre-
dibility will grow as the students see certain logic bet-
ween their decisions and game results, taking a positive
attitude towards the game.
In general, participants in a game become aware of the
interrelation between an organization’s main functions in
a very realistic way; for example, the importance of mer-
chandising in finance and production [2,3]. Such interre-
lation, much explained in theory is grasped quickly by
the students thanks to the game. Therefore, it is about a
learning method that students face with big interest and
motivation, feeling “in” the simulation, stemming diffi-
culties by keeping such excitement.
Simulation games are activities oriented towards a
goal whose content and processes are intimately related
with some general or specific competence, by means of
the implementation of a series of instructions that par-
ticipants must follow, for the game to be effective. Gen-
erally these rules are specified by the designer and pre-
sented to the participants as game instructions. The
number and specification of the instructions change from
one activity to another and from one game to the other.
A game to be educational has to meet a series of fea-
tures. According to [4], games plausibility is essential for
the students to consider it a real learning method and to
be motivated by it. Nevertheless, they must understand
that it’s only a simplified representation of reality, and
because of that, they should not operate it assuming all
real life circumstances are taking place.
[3] upholds that to make the most of the results, the
game must be capable of responding to showing expec-
tations, with the objective of knowing if it has been use-
ful to the participants, and if it has allowed the achieve-
ment of objectives to set a priori.
Also, it is important that the game makes it possible
for the student to be creative at decision-making and
makes it possible for the professor to intervene in the
simulation while teaching, taking one direction or an-
other [5]. To capture business reality, the ga me should be
complex enough; although, it’s necessary to take into
account that an excessive game complexity causes frus-
tration between particip ants. It is considered the optimum
game that contains enough aspects for the student to try
solving specific problems, and at the same time provides
a general approach of what management is about, con-
sidering at all times that the student copes with an uncer-
Methodology to Select the Best Business Game in Higher Education
tain and competitive env ironment [2,6].
In order to learn to be effective, it is essential that the
student involves creatively and perseveres in the game,
and the professor is constant in advice and in control of
the students, pr oviding continuous fee dback [7].
The unlimited grade of realism of this simulation con-
tributes to making evident that the ethical solution of
business problems of international nature requires diag-
nostic capacity and conceptual reasoning superior to
what management usually calls for in most cases; quail-
ties that for another side certainly are developed by
business games independently of their other possible me-
Through the bibliographical revision made, this re-
search expects to determine the business game with most
pedagogical effectiveness, from a teaching approach,
through the use of multi-criteria methodology “Measur-
ing Attractiveness by a Category Based Evaluation Tech-
nique” (MACBETH). For this, we have considered the
features that better describe a business simulator from a
pedagogical approach: clarity in its instructions, creativ-
ity developed in students, grade of complexity, repre-
sented reality, fulfillment of the faculty educational ob-
jectives and the students expectations, and the grade
shown in the interrelation between several business ar-
The rest of the features have been avoided for being
considered hard to measure by a professor in an objective
way, being more feasible to value by the student. This
will open as a future line of research, similar studies from
a student approach.
2. Field Work
Field work has taken place during the months of Febru-
ary, March and April of 2013. The information is gath-
ered through a survey sent by e-mail to 300 college pro-
fessors of several Spanish universities that implement
business simulation games, using as support a question-
naire composed of 10 questions (See Annex 1). There
were 130 surveys received, from which 17 were dis-
carded for not completing the required fields correctly,
leaving the sample object of study constituted by 113
professors, from the following universities: Deusto,
Pompeu Fabra, Rey Juan Carlos, ICADE, Universidad de
Valladolid, UNED, CEU San Pablo, ESIC, Universidad
de Extremadura, Universidad de Jaen, Universidad de la
Laguna and the Universidad Pública de Navarra.
The games used by the faculty of these universities are
the following nine: International Operation Simulation
(INTOP), Venture Game, Business Strategy Game 8.0,
Directivo Game (Manager Game), Juego del Ejecutivo
(Game of the Executive), Estratega Game (Strategist
Game), International Operations Simulation Mark 2000
(INTOPIA), Global Marketing Competition, and Labo-
ratorio de Gestion (Management Laboratory).
The purpose of this survey is to know the opinion of
the faculty staff regarding certain aspects of the game
that they use in their teaching. Considering the mean of
the received responses for each game, and using the
MACBETH approach, it will be possible to establish a
hierarchical order that will allow determining the opti-
mum simulator, between the ones consid ered, valuing its
pedagogical efficiency.
3. Analytical Procedure
The methodology used in this research is supported in the
multi-criteria analysis to obtain a classification of the
simulation games mentioned previously (which act as
classified alternatives), in role of its educational features
(which act as criteria or variables to consider).
The selection made of a multi-criteria methodology is
based in the existence o f multiple criteria (features in this
case), that have to be evaluated and classified from a
uniform perspective. This way, the objective of the de-
cider or evaluator (decision maker) will be to identify an
alternative, in this case a simulation game that satisfies,
in every way possible, all the selected criteria. Despite
the previous, it should be emphasize that an ab solute and
valid “better solution” will not exist for all the decision-
makers, because the results of the multi-criteria problem
will depend of the personal preferences of each one of
the professors. Such preferences can be expressed in a
quantitative or qualitative way, for the several existing
methodologies for the processing of information.
The object of study provides quantitative information
(expressed through rating scales) about the opinion of a
group of Spanish university professors regarding the
educational features of a set of business games. This in-
formation was gathered through a survey made, which
was previ ously explain e d.
The MACBETH methodology was used for the han-
dling of data introduced by Bana e Costa and Vansnick
in 1994 and developed in the fall of 2002 trough M-
MACBETH software by the same authors with De Corte1
Such election responds to the fact that the previous tech-
nique requires exclusively qualitative judgment over the
attractive differences within elements, to generate scores
for the options of each criterion and to rank those criteria
The MACBETH method is based in the theory of the
multi-attribute utility, developed by Keeney and Raiffa in
1976, in which each criterion indicated a partial descrip-
tion of the utility of the choices under a certain perspec-
tive. Such partial utilit ies, aggregated by a value fun ction,
will serve as reference to calculate the total utility, which
will be taken as base to solve the problem.
1An introduction and demonstration of such software can be found at
the web site:
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Methodology to Select the Best Business Game in Higher Education 591
The implementation of this technique includes a series
of phases that start with a first stage of structuring, in
which will establish the criteria and the choices to be
evaluated and their respective roles. In a second phase
each option scores or preferences of attractiveness should
be valued regarding to the different criterions based on a
semantic scale of 7 categories: null, very weak, weak,
moderate, strong, very strong, and extreme allowing that
the evaluator expresses doubt [10]. From this scale de-
rives the acronym MACBETH: “Measuring Attractive-
ness by a Category Based Evaluation Technique” (meas-
ure the attractiveness through a technique of evaluation
based in categories). In this second stage a ranking of the
criteria should be made. In the third and last phase, con-
sistence of the evaluator judgment is verified, in a way
they are introduced, the software suggests different pos-
sibilities in case of flimsiness. Once the qualitative
judgment matrix is consistent, the software evolutions to
a quantitative evaluation model that provides a scale of
global scores that reflects the attractiveness of the choice
in evaluation regarding the collection of all the criteri-
ons and that should be contrasted by the evaluator
Last, sensibility and roughness of the model results
should be analyzed con sidering a key factor in the multi-
criteria methodology: data uncertainty.
The following Figure 1 shows the scheme that should
be followed while implementing the MACBETH meth-
Using the MACBETH methodology it will be possible
to rank business games considering several features and
criteria to determine the optimum simulator.
4. Empirical Study and Results
Once the reasons for the selection and main features of
the MACBETH methodo logy were explained, is possible
to implement such technique for the case object of study
following the phases indicated previously.
These options will be, logically, the nine business si-
mulators that were chosen in the surveys made for this
The criteria established are seven, and are the features
that a business simulator should have in order to be ef-
fective from a pedagogical perspective. In Figure 2 the
tree that the software provides and that collects such cri-
terions an d fe atures can be obse rv ed.
Providing the 113 surveys and allowing one general
answer from the software, the data of the professors is
processed and calculating the mean of each one of the
answers, obtaining the performance table shown in Fig-
ure 3, and that expresses the opinion of the professors
regarding the pedagogical features of several business
simulators considered.
Figure 1. MACBETH methodology scheme. Source: Bana e
Costa, De Corte y Vansnick (2005).
Features of
Business Games
Figure 2. Tree of criterions selected for the election of a
proper business simulator. Source: own preparation.
Figure 3. Performance Table. Source: own preparation
from M-MACBETH software.
As explained previously, the criterions must be ranked.
Nevertheless, considering that the objective of this re-
search is to analyze which is the proper game from an
educational approach, opting not to include judgments in
the software considering that all the features of the game
are equally important to see its pedagogical effectiveness
increased; which accepts the scale proposed by M-
Considering the previous an analysis of results can be
made. Therefore if you observe Figures 4 it can be ob-
served the ranking obtained is the following: 1). Man-
agement Laboratory (LG), 2). INTOPIA Mark 2000 (INM),
3). Business Strategy Game 8.0 (BSG), 4). Venture Game
(VG), 5). INTOP (INT), 6). Manager Game (DG), 7). Glo-
bal Marketing Competition (GMC), 8). Strategist Game
(EG), 9. Game of the Executive (JE).
To state with certainty that the previous business
simulators will have been selected by th e professors in all
cases, an analysis of robustness should be made to eli-
minate data uncertainty and assu rance that the results are
conclusive (observe Figure 5).
In the previous figures a global comparison of pair of
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Methodology to Select the Best Business Game in Higher Education
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Figures 4. Global thermometer and table of punctuations. Source: Own preparation from M-MACBETH software.
Figure 5. Robustness analysis. Source: Own preparation from M-MACBETH software.
choices are made and a relationship between them is
showed. This way several symbols could arise: if “a
dominates b” a triangle will come up in line a, and in
column b; if “a is globally more attractive than b, con-
sidering the available information” a cross will show the
relationship between these options, and in case this op-
tions are equivalent an equal sign will come up.
The case object of study proves that after the robust-
ness analysis is made the simulation game Management
Laboratories is a better choice in all cases, than the rest
of the simulators considered.
5. Conclusions
The research made offers universities the possibility to
employ the simulator, which between the ones analyzed,
better satisfies educational needs. For this, MACBETH
multi-criteria methodology was used, which was based
on the qualitative judgment made by the professors who
surveyed the features with which a business game must
comply in order to be educational. And the game will
allow to be organized precisely into a hierarchy that the
nine simulators analyzed previously.
In this study pedagogical features were considered that,
to the researchers judgment, could be valued objectively
by the professor, which means that, those were involved
with the game’s plausibility and complexity, its capabil-
ity to respond to setting expectatio ns, the achievement of
setting objectives a priori, the clarity of instructions, de-
velopment of the student’s creativity, and the level of
expression in the interrelation between business subsys-
Methodology to Select the Best Business Game in Higher Education 593
At the sight of the results obtained, which could be
concluded that the most valued simulator within the ones
considered, is “Management Laboratory”, for being the
one that best adjusts to the educational needs of the
Spanish university p rofessors.
Although currently many business games exist, this
research delimits the search for the optimum simulator,
offering universities an efficient methodo logy that allows
to save time and costs when selecting the most efficient
simulator from a pedagogical perspective.
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Methodology to Select the Best Business Game in Higher Education
Dear colleagues:
The Group for Investigation of Simulation in Teaching (Grupo de In-
vestigación de Simulación en la Enseñanza) (G.I.S.E) kindly requests
your collaboration by completing the following survey regarding the
usiness games you have implemented now a days in your teaching
activities, with the objective of gathering a significant sample that will
allow us to complete our research.
Thank you for participating.
University: …………………………….…………………
Game imple men ted: …………………………..………….
Major: ……………………………………… ……….……
Course: …………………………………………...………
Semester: …………………………………………………
This questionnaire is composed of two kinds of questions:
open and closed. In the case of open questions is kindly
requested for the answer to be precise. With closed ques-
tions just make an X in the answer you consider to be the
most accurate, that is 1 for totally disagree and 7 for to-
tally agree.
1. Game instructions are clear and allowing their accurate
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
2. Which is the optimum number of decisions that the stu-
dent must make in order to understand the oper ation of the
3. The game allows students creativity.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
4. Indicate the optimum number of participating teams in
the simulation.
5. The grade of complexity of the game (regarding the
number of measured variables) is accurate given the objec-
tives to be achieved.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
6. Value the business game utility as an educational tool in
order to understand business reality.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7. Indicate the number of hours a student approximately
needs for the study and implementation of the game.
8. Pedagogical objectives followed are being achieved within
the development of the game.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
9. The business simulator grasps the existing interrelation
between se ver a l roles within the business.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
10. Student expectations are being achieved with the im-
plementation of the game.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
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