The strategic micro‐firm: a role play in management training for dynamic businesses

Federico Barnabè (Department of Social and Business Studies, University of Siena, Siena, Italy)
Cristiano Busco (National University of Ireland, Galway, Galway, Ireland)
Pål I. Davidsen (Department of Geography, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)
Maurizio Lambri (GMV Consulting, Milan, Italy)
Gianfranco Zatta (GMV Consulting, Milan, Italy)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 28 June 2013



The purpose of this paper is to present the main characteristics of the role‐playing game “Strategic Micro‐Firm” which aims to reproduce the fundamental features of a complex supply chain.


A specific role‐playing game is presented, in which a Balanced Scorecard is used as the reporting device and is the main tool for analysing players' performance. The research design and the typical outcomes of several gaming sessions are discussed.


The paper illustrates the strengths of using this specific role‐playing game as a means for training managers to face complex and dynamic issues, such as the supply chain.

Research limitations/implications

Depending on the features of the specific game and the interaction taking place, different kinds and various degrees of learning and performance improvements can occur. Therefore, it is not possible to provide a generalization.

Practical implications

The paper shows that gaming can play a relevant role in management training, providing free and safe environments in which players can face decision‐making issues and problem‐solving challenges.


The paper demonstrates how a specific role‐playing game maybe used in management education/training to incentivize improvements in problem‐solving skills as well as in communication and coordination. Role playing could be used for support in designing supply chain management policies, providing a safe, simulated environment where managerial strategies may be explored and discussed before their implementation. The paper's originality relates to the adoption of the Balanced Scorecard as the main reporting and performance assessment tool for the gaming experience.



Barnabè, F., Busco, C., Davidsen, P., Lambri, M. and Zatta, G. (2013), "The strategic micro‐firm: a role play in management training for dynamic businesses", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 328-342.

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