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Human resource management development and strategic management enhanced by simulation exercises Peter R.J. Trim
Department of Management, Birkbeck College, University of London, London, UK Keywords Management development, Mentoring, Strategic management, Simulation Abstract In order to meet the challenges of the marketplace, senior management needs to ensure that an organisation employs highly skilled and well-motivated staff, and there is a commitment to establishing a learning organisation. Simulation exercises can be used to develop the skill base of individual employees and corporate mentoring can be used to both retain and stimulate junior managers who are keen to progress through the organisation’s hierarchy. This paper makes reference to a human resource management development and strategic management framework that can be used to develop a pro-active approach to decision making. Such a framework will allow junior managers to develop a holistic awareness and appreciation of the organisation, and will provide a basis for consensus decision making. It will also foster diversity and enhance the process of communication in a multi-cultural work environment.
Received July 2003 Accepted October 2003
Introduction Professional and personal development can be enhanced by simulation exercises. Hence human resource management specialists and trainers need to be aware of the fact that complex simulation exercises can help junior and potential managers to develop skills that are necessary for managing a range of staff in a complex business environment. Simulation exercises are useful in the sense that they are a mechanism for developing technical, professional and managerial skills. Simulation exercises can be used to improve an individual’s decision-making skill base (Feinstein et al., 2002, p. 733) and can also be used to improve group decision making. Furthermore, simulation exercises can be used to make individuals aware of the need to be sensitive to others and to develop the necessary interpersonal skills that will allow decision making to be viewed as transparent and fair. A key point to remember, however, is that a management game needs to “provide the learner with a dynamic environment” (Feinstein et al., 2002, p. 736) in which they can develop their intellectual capabilities. Simulations can also be used for a variety of purposes including applying the latest management models, concepts and decision-making aids; and developing alternative strategies for implementation. In the case of
Journal of Management Development Vol. 23 No. 4, 2004 pp. 399-413 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0262-1711 DOI 10.1108/02621710410529820
encouraging new forms of strategic thinking and theory building, simulations can provide a useful function as they can incorporate various functional areas of knowledge and require a range of specialists to work together in order to solve complex and evolving problems. With regard to strategic thinking, Graetz (2002) has outlined an approach to strategic thinking that incorporates scenario planning, and this is to be commended as it reinforces the need for ﬁnding unique solutions to unique problems. It is useful therefore, to bear in mind that simulation exercises are associated more with training people as opposed to educating people (Feinstein et al., 2002, p. 739). A human resource management development strategy is primarily concerned with managing the careers of employees (Watson and Harris, 1996). Organisations progress through a number of evolutionary and revolutionary stages (Greiner, 1972), and each organisation has its own personality (Salama, 1992); hence it is essential that staff training needs are identiﬁed in advance...