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Strategic management: an evaluation of the use of three learning methods Department of Strategic Management and Marketing, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK Keywords Learning, Strategic management, Simulation, Action learning, Consultancy Abstract The article examines the use of three learning methods in the teaching of strategic management; the case method, simulation and action learning, in the form of a consultancy project. A survey of course members' perceptions of learning outcomes indicates that simulation is the most effective method. Conclusions are provided for the design of strategic management programmes and the development of action learning projects.
Received May 2001 Revised January 2002 Accepted January 2002
Introduction The concepts and techniques of strategic management are a key component of many MBA programmes, focusing upon issues of value creation, competitive behaviour and corporate development. Courses in strategic management often employ a variety of learning methods. Eldredge and Galloway (1983) find that strategic management courses typically make use of a number of methods based upon text, case, management games, field projects and guest speakers. Similarly Jennings' (1996) survey of strategic management courses in the UK found the majority of those courses to be using a combination of methods; lectures with discussion, case studies, guest speakers, tutorials based on current issues, business games, company-based research projects and consultancy projects. There can be a number of reasons for using multiple learning methods. Various methods may complement each other to promote the development of a wider range of skills (Teach and Govahi, 1993). Multiple learning methods can also be included in an education programme in order to introduce variety to the overall teaching programme. The use of multiple methods in a programme invites questions concerning their relative effectiveness in achieving learning outcomes and whether the methods complement each other in the skills which they develop. This article compares three learning methods used on a postgraduate masters course in strategic management: (1) the case method; (2) the development of a proposal and plan for a hypothetical new business (a simulation); and (3) a workplace-based project involving principles of action learning (a consultancy project).
Journal of Management Development, Vol. 21 No. 9, 2002, pp. 655-665. # MCB UP Limited, 0262-1711 DOI 10.1108/02621710210441658
Journal of Management Development 21,9 656
The intention of the strategic management course, and of the overall masters programme, was to promote the development of the students to become management practitioners. This aim was reflected in the learning methods that were employed by the course and their potential to address a range of cognitive, behavioural and attitudinal learning outcomes, many of which concern working with others, while undertaking strategy-based assignments. The case method The strategic management course made use of a number of case studies, including several short cases of less than a thousand words. Cases were generally used as part of a class to develop understanding of situations, concepts and techniques. The class session typically included a brief period of small group discussion before discussion by the whole class. The course also included several decision orientated case sessions in which students were asked to diagnose problems and propose options and recommendations. These exercises were group-based and included presentations. The use of the case method in management education was pioneered in 1910 by Harvard's newly formed...