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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


LINKS Marketing Strategy Simulation

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.2 stars
Content Quality: 4.4 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 3.8 stars
Reviewed: Feb 26, 2006 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: The LINKS Marketing Strategy Simulation provides a team-based competition that
allows students/participants to apply theories and principles of marketing
strategy in a real-time environment. Student teams represent firms that
manufacture set top boxes and compete simultaneously in global markets. The
simulation is flexible enough to accommodate variations in the degree of
complexity desired by instructors and different class sizes. The simulation is
designed to provide students with hands-on exposure to strategic marketing
decisions in the areas of segmentation, target market selection, marketing mix
management, and supply chain management.
Learning Goals: Major learning goals include helping students understand how to 1) evaluate
market opportunities and select target markets, 2) formulate marketing strategy
in regards segmentation, targeting, positioning, and market entry, 3) evaluate
the impacts of marketing mix variables in competitive markets, 4) coordinate
marketing and operations decisions, and 5) analyze competitive markets and
environmental forces.
Target Student Population: The target population is primarily senior-level marketing and MBA students. It
would be an excellent capstone course application in marketing management and
marketing strategy. Other options could include a marketing research course, in
analyzing marketing data and decision making applications.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Sound knowledge of basic marketing principles and marketing research. The
latter is helpful for students to enable interpretation and use of the research
reports generated by the simulation.
Type of Material: This e module under review is a marketing strategy simulation that require teams
to
formulate decisions for every LINK event (round). Reports, and other
information/reports are delivered in MS Word; support documentation is available
in PDF file format. The main point of difference for this simulation is that
the program is web-based, and therefore requires NO software/program
installation. As such, students are NOT place or machine bound to participate.
Recommended Uses: This module is best suited for an upper-level marketing or graduate audience.
The simulation could be used as an offline activity in a capstone course or
could be the main focus of the course and supplemented with additional readings
and discussions. The latter approach would probably work better due to the
complexity and volume of information processing required. Team performance
should be tied to class grades.
Technical Requirements: Standard internet browser and web access if the simulation is run remotely (as
recommended by the author). Can also be run locally, in which the software
would have to be installed on local machines. Students also need Adobe Acrobat
reader and MS Word.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.4 stars
Strengths: The module provides a great application material, it is well-organized, and is
supplemented with additional information/links. Extremely realistic marketing
strategy simulation that offers students an opportunity to "learn-by-doing." The
simulation is designed to provide a current, relevant, and comprehensive
experience in the practice of formulating and analyzing marketing strategy. It
is completely self-contained and extensively supported with documentation FAQs,
and personal assistance for instructors. The simulation can be run as an
offline activity (outside of class time) although this might be too onerous for
most student populations.
Concerns: Complexity is the chief concern and students will need to devote a lot of time
and effort to discovering the relationships between their decision variables and
the impacts on the competitive markets.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: Simulations are one of the most desired capstone course learning tools. This
simulation provides excellent opportunities and platforms for instructors to
develop and reinforce marketing concepts (e.g., segmentation, positioning) and
discuss and demonstrate the use of analytical tools. It speeds learning through
increased attention to the impacts of decision variables on performance. The
Balanced scorecard approach allows instructors to evaluate and reward various
dimensions of performance. It also helps instructors showcase the integration
of marketing strategy with supply chain management.
Concerns: The simulation does not provide students with much room for error and concepts
are not reinforced progressively. One suggestion would be to use "practice"
rounds - although the author of the module appears to be opposed to this option.
Another might be to vary the level of complexity by restricting the scope of
decisions and number of product-markets. These latter options are not currently
available and limits the population of students that can benefit from this
simulation. Instructors need to spend a considerable amount of time and effort
to ensure that they fully understand the simulation. The absence of an
instructor's manual that describes how the decision variables impact the
competitive market necessitates that instructors "learn-by-doing" or by
questioning the author. The balanced scorecard system awards points to a team
whenever its performance is better than another team on a sub-dimension (e.g.
ROA). This approach is likely to promote an extremely competitive and aggresive
class environment.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3.8 stars
Strengths: From the student’s standpoint, the simulation is well designed, appealing, and
very realistic. It provides clear, albeit lengthy instructions and would
succeed in engaging their attention and interest. From the instructor’s
standpoint, it provides multiple opportunities and platforms to discuss and
develop marketing concepts (e.g., forecasting, conjoint analysis, etc.) and
various analytical tools (e.g., Excel, SPSS). The simulation can be run over the
web, eliminating the need for instructors and students to install and run
software locally.
Concerns: The site will require a strong orientation for students. Concerns from the
students’ standpoint include the complexity of the simulation
and time and effort required to understand the relationships between the
decision variables and the performance measures. Another concern is the
reliance on web integrity when the simulation is run as a remote exercise. From
an instructor’s perspective, the major drawback is lack of information about
marketing models that link decision variables to market outcomes and the
unavailability of diagnostic reports for instructors.

Other Issues and Comments: Recommend that Excel or SPSS be used as supplemental tools to analyze the
reports generated by the simulation. The simulation would thus provide an
engaging and realistic context for students to refine their analytical skills.