Here are some Interesting Simulations in MBA Programs: Wharton and INSEAD Offers the Most Variety

MBA SimulationsBusiness Simulations are an extension of the traditional classroom lectures and case-study method of teaching in an MBA Program. The real value of this tool comes from testing what you have learned through these simulations.

How valuable are these simulations?

It gives students the ability to take the type of risks that normally cannot be taken in real life. By observing the consequence of these actions, students can learn about themselves and how various elements in a Business Environment influences each other. Simulations require collaboration with team members and teach students to think for the team and effectively communicate with each other. The learning experiences develop team building, leadership and problem solving skills.

The Simulation Games can be broadly categorized based on the learning function – Communication, Finance, Sustainability, Leadership & Teamwork, Marketing, Strategy, Supply Chain, Change Management, Venture Capital, Entrepreneurship, Economics and Pricing, and Statistics.

Let us look at some of the best simulation games used in top Business Schools.


The Tip of the Iceberg cultural team is a Harvard MBA Communication Simulation that simulates how international team members work together in a project. It requires team members to take up roles as native and non-native English speakers, and have to work on challenging deadlines, maneuvering language barriers. Simulation shows the importance of communication in managing the performance of a team.


INSEAD's FORAD is an international corporate financial game. The player takes on the role of an MNC's finance department and makes a series of dynamic decisions in an unstable forex and global capital markets. The aim is to compete against other teams and maximize financial indicators like share price, dividend per share, credit rating and equity returns.


Wharton Learning Lab’s Tragedy of the Tuna is an interesting simulation. The game puts Students in a situation where they have to learn to balance short-term profitability with long-term sustainability. The simulation challenges students to keep the competition at bay while developing a strategy to employ a short range or long-range fishing. Students have to monitor the Tuna population while deploying each strategy.

Leadership and Teamwork

Harvard’s Everest: teams and leadership simulation, tests the student’s leadership, communication and ability to make life and death decisions. There are no margins for error and the team leaders should be able to evaluate factors like weather, health of the team members, supplies, goals, or hiking speed, before fixing checkpoints for the summit. Teamwork is tested when the members have to decide on how to manage oxygen bottles and supplies effectively, as both these factors can affect the team’s success.


CountryManager International Marketing Simulation exposes students to all aspects of marketing – market segmentation, strategies to enter a new market, targeting options, and understanding the cultural context in marketing. The simulation familiarizes students with marketing in two regions: Asia or Latin America. Students take on the role of Country Manager and manage the introduction of the Company’s toothpaste in each market, while keeping in mind local, regional and international competitors.


MIT's Platform Wars simulates the launch of Sony’s PlayStation 3 and the success of the game depends on the market share and games available in each console. Students will learn to change game variables like Console Price, Game Titles to Subsidize, and the Royalty Percentage, and can monitor how the changes affect market conditions. By understanding how various factors correlates with market conditions, students will learn to develop effective strategies for the Gaming industry.

Supply Chain

With Global Supply Chain Management simulation, students have to set up a Global Supply Chain for mobile phones. The simulation is spread across four years (simulation). Students have to visit four rooms – Design, Forecast, Production and Board Room, and learn to manage the Supply Chain based on market conditions, competitors and suppliers. The challenge is to manage diverse factors and successfully maintain the flexibility of the supply chain.

Change Management

In INSEAD’s EIS Business Simulation Game, students have to work in groups and convince management members to introduce an innovation in a EuroComm division. Students get 6 months (simulated) to introduce innovation (Executive Information System) through various tactics. The underlying goal of this innovation is to increase transparency and reporting in the corporation. The challenge here is to overcome organizational and individual resistance to change.

Venture Capital

With Stanford’s Venture Capital Game, students can pick one of the teams: Entrepreneurs or Venture Capitalists. Entrepreneurs have to generate cash, raise capital and manage expenditure. The total market sizes changes with time and Venture Capitalist have access to the Entrepreneur’s financial data. The objective of the simulation is to find opportunities in the market and acquire maximum equity in exchange for Cash.


Wharton’s Startup Game allows the student to learn about various aspects of a starting a company like equity structuring, valuation and recruitment.  The game also teaches students how to find the right investors based on the funding requirement. Before the games starts each student is assigned a role as an Employee, Investor or a Company Founder. One session is spent negotiating deals with each other.

Economics and Pricing

Wharton’s Fare Game takes students to a pricing war set in 1989 with the entry of Midway Airline’s into Milwaukee market. Students have to learn how to price and respond to competitor’s pricing strategies while remaining profitable. The fair cuts and hikes work within the competitive framework of the airline industry. Students have to learn to manage profitability and keep investors happy, while subtly influencing the competitors with the pricing.


Wharton’s Forio online simulation engine addresses the N-Armed Bandit Problem. Students have to choose one of the 10 Slot machines that have different probability of paying out based on the exploration vs. exploitation concept. Should students take the immediate payoff with exploitation or explore further and get more information before taking a payout?

Related Resources

1) Wharton's Alfred P. West, Jr. Learning Lab
2) Insead Simulations
3) Harvad Simulations
4) MIT Sloan Learning Edge

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