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Rosie Bukics, Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Professor and acting head of economics and business, gives the following account of how a board game enhances learning in her Entrepreneurial Finance course:

What do the fundamentals of entrepreneurial finance, Fortune magazine’s Small Business, and a board game have in common? They intersect in my Entrepreneurial Finance course as a means of encouraging students to think like entrepreneurs, understand competitive forces, and consider the phases of every firm’s life cycle. Because simulating a competitive entrepreneurial environment in a classroom is difficult, I have turned to a board game called Risky Business.

The game begins with all players in the development phase of a business and illustrates how a start-up must have a coherent business plan, a balanced management team, and adequate capital to proceed to the next stage. As the game progresses through the second stage, team members much make decisions about intellectual capital (patent rights) and product development, as well as addressing the increasing need for capital. In the last phase of the game, the role of customers, profits, and management compensation all become critical. The game’s objective is to be the first entrepreneur to take a company from start-up to initial public offering.

I use the game twice during the semester, once in the first two weeks and again in the last two weeks. The early play provides students with an opportunity to see the opportunities and pitfalls inherent in an entrepreneurial environment. The second playing allows students the opportunity to apply what they have learned and to focus on different long-term strategies.

Why do I use a board game in class? First, students relate well to games, which makes them particularly effective. Second, the game forces students to understand how unexpected events, such as a competitor hiring away a key manager, may derail even the best strategy. Third, it asks students to continuously consider how their decisions are received in the marketplace. Finally, students take it seriously and, above all, it’s fun.

Categorized in: Academic News