26 September 2014

“Congratulations! You have been appointed to manage a company. You start Wednesday.”

The opening words of Bernard Garrette’s introductory talk on Negosim – a computer-based business simulation exercise that MBA students take part in during their first few weeks at HEC Paris. Over the course of three days, students are placed into teams of 4 or 5, and then set about managing virtual companies that compete in international markets. The main objective? To create wealth for their virtual shareholders. During this short period of time, the teams will work through six quarters (eighteen months in real time), making six sets of important decisions. The students will be split into three different “universes”, comprising of ten firms, of different nationalities. As well as competing with their peers, students will face computer-simulated “local” competitors in their respective countries. What’s more, all firms operate in the same B2B industry: electronic devices.

Thrown into such fierce competition, you may be tempted to think that the best strategy would be to avoid contact with other teams at all costs. However, this is not the point of the exercise – in Negosim, companies not only compete, they co-operate. The teams will be expected to negotiate and sign outsourcing agreements, embark on joint-ventures, and form strategic alliances in order to progress and generate more wealth. The goal is to learn by doing. The teams have been purposefully selected so they are as diverse as possible – not only to simulate the real working environment of global businesses, but in order to create a wealth of different ideas. Students will progress by trial and error, putting into practice what they have only just begun to learn in the classroom, as MBA student and Negosim participant Vivek Goli says, it’s “a practice ground before we hit the real battleground.”


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