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Redesigning the Traditional Business Gaming Process – Aiming to Capture Business Process Authenticity

Timo Lainema, Redesigning the Traditional Business Gaming Process – Aiming to Capture Business Process Authenticity. Journal of Information Technology Education 3, 35-52, 2004.


The constantly changing business environment has forced many organizations to move away from focusing on individual tasks and functions to focusing on more integrated and coordinated ways of work. Higher-level business and information systems (IS) education is also in a state of change, as the traditional curriculum does not coincide with business realities. The mission of IS is shifting from developing and supporting information processing applications to developing, managing and supporting the information technology infrastructure for the entire organization. This requires knowledge of business operations. As educators in universities we should take these changes into consideration when we plan IS curricula. This means critical examination of the content of teaching. On the basis of the evidence from some business school and IS education literature, the authors point out the need to teach the cross-functional nature of business operations. In this paper we present an example of a business learning environment that presents business organizations as dynamic, time dependent networks of business transactions. We aim at representing real-world complexity and authenticity in the learning environment. This aim is justified by introducing the constructivist view of learning which supports the use of learning environments which capture the learning context as a whole. According to the constructivist principles learning tasks should also be relevant and the reason for solving problems must be authentic to the context in which the learning is to be applied. The learning environment introduced in this paper provides the learner with control over the learning activity and also enables the re-creation of highly realistic situations in which the learner personally experiences the content of instruction. We are challenging the dominating batch-processed method of running business games. Our proposition is based on continuous processing, which is relevant especially from the point of view of training causal, time-dependent crossfunctional business operations. We also present some findings from using a dynamic and realistic business process learning environment in company in-house training sessions and argue the applicability of the learning environment in university settings. As a conclusion we note that continuous processing in simulation gaming environments reveals the natural complexity and process nature of business operations better than batch-processing. Along with the processes, the game participants can also draw conclusions about causal dependencies between decisions and their outcomes. With these kinds of dynamic models participants discover that in complex systems cause and effect are separated in time and place. Continuous processing presents authentic tasks rather than abstractive instructions. Also the process nature increases the realism of the gaming experience. Realism in the game model also increases the enjoyability of the gaming experience, and this probably further enhances learning. These findings speak for the use of learning tools that represent authentic tasks rather than abstractive instructions.

BibTeX entry:

  title = {Redesigning the Traditional Business Gaming Process – Aiming to Capture Business Process Authenticity},
  author = {Lainema, Timo},
  journal = {Journal of Information Technology Education},
  volume = {3},
  pages = {35-52},
  year = {2004},

Belongs to TUCS Research Unit(s): UTU Information Systems Science (ISS)

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