Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad

 


“I have always been impressed with the character of my Indian students, and never more so than with my IMT Markstrat participants”, said visiting lecturer, Prof. L. Garber, Elon University

Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad is constantly on the look-out for ways to stay on the cutting edge of education. One such method has been the use of game-play to teach Marketing and for this purpose, IMT-Ghaziabad brought back visiting faculty member, Prof. Larry Garber to conduct the course.

The name of the game is Markstrat and Prof. Garber describes it as an overall experience of learning through action, rather than a directed exercise. “Markstrat works by simulating durable goods industries consisting of four to six firms, with student teams acting as each firm’s marketing department,” he said. “The market consists of five consumer segments served by three channels of distribution. Each firm allocates funds for various activities including advertising, sales, product development and marketing research. Student teams must also make decisions regarding price and production order quantities. Teams are given the objective of maximising net contribution to profits.”

Games such as Markstrat present students with realistic marketing scenarios and environments in the classroom. They get to create a strategy, make decisions to implement it and get rapid feedback. “Active forms of learning, such as those that games provide, are thought by some to generally lead to higher levels of student involvement, be more nurturing and enjoyable, and be more challenging and motivating than alternative pedagogies,” stated Prof. Garber.

This is not to say that the game will replace traditional teaching methods altogether; it is a merely an acknowledgement of the fact that all methods have their advantages and can complement each other.“I often use cases in combination with games,” explained Prof Garber. “Case studies, like games, are active learning tools that place problems in context, but cases are more circumscribed, more directed, more focused, more circumstantial and more immediate. Cases are complementary to games by serving to highlight and elaborate upon particular issues that arise within games. If the game is a stage, then cases are spotlights.”

According to Prof. Garber, Markstrat not only gives students a realistic marketplace atmosphere to work in, but can actually be more beneficial than on-the-job training when it comes to learning. It does this by illustrating the relationships between marketing plan elements, their effects on consumer purchases and the firm’s financial outcomes and isolating those relationships so the effects of marketing are apparent.

“Perhaps ironically, this is not always possible in the chaos and dynamism of an actual marketplace, where perhaps hundreds of external variables may impinge upon outcomes, such that the ability of the marketer to determine the effects of his own actions can be lost in that welter.”

When it comes to the Markstrat game, students are more than willing to take to the playing field. As Prof. Garber says, “Students typically appreciate the opportunity to learn on their own terms, in a relatively unsupervised manner. And since, with games, students are solving problems in context, they perceive the experience to be authentic, and the learning they are receiving from it to particularly aid their preparedness for the actual business world.”

The quality of education provided at IMT-Ghaziabad shines through when IMT students play Markstrat. “Certainly, the sound marketing education provided to my IMT students prior to their playing the game is evident in their understanding of the game and in their strong overall game performances.

I have always been impressed with the character of my Indian students, and never more so than with the IMT Markstrat participants. My Indian students have displayed great resilience, never giving up on the game, always pressing forward, constantly endeavouring, and as a result, constantly learning - a great credit to them.”