Incentive strategies for system-integrated business simulations

Incentive strategies for system-integrated business simulations
Internal advisor: Bastian Kurbjuhn, Torsten Zinke

Companies use scenario-based simulations to simulate extraordinary business transactions or emergency situations. They can also use scenario-based simulations to prepare their employees and decision-makers for such situations and to examine the suitability of their business processes. Up to now, the focus of the design of such business simulations has been on the maximum level of realism of the scenario. The motivation of the people involved to participate in the simulation seriously and success-orientedly has barely been considered as yet, although this aspect is as crucial for the success of the often expensive simulations. Wrong or lacking motivation can cause the simulation to take on a wrong track and might lead to falsified results that cannot be transfered to reality easily.

Before a planned process change, for example, a company wants to simulate the new processes with the involved employees in the context of a simulation environment in order to prepare the employees and to varify the efficiency of the new processes. The simulation is indeed important for the company since it is meant to create foundations for a smooth migration of the company to the new processes and to reveal possible weaknesses in the new processes before they will be transfered to reality. Furthermore, the simulation includes a significant financial effort (for example through the required working hours of the involved employees). The company thus has a strong interest to conduct the simulation efficiently and effectively. The actual simulation scenario can be easily created according to the process steps. The simulation however should also be created in a motivating way for the involved employees in order to avoid the rising of the feeling "I have better things to do than spending several days on this simulation". The conveying of fun and a sense of achievement in the context of the simulation leads to a better learning effect for the employees and to a more careful accomplishment of the single simulation steps, which also allows a more realistic evaluation of the results (e.g. concerning the efficiency of new processes).

The company furthermore wants to conduct the simulation on the basis of its existing systems (for example the ERP system) and with real data, which is the reason why a system-integrated approach has to be chosen. This approach not only offers a high degree of realism, but also the advantage that the employees do not have to get used to a new system environment for the simulation.  

Due to the variety of possible scenarios for organization simulations and the many different types of employee motivation, there is no incentive strategy that is applicable to all cases. Furthermore, not all incentive strategies are applicable to system-integrated simulations. Instead, a portfolio is needed by means of which a suitable strategy for the particular simulation context and the desired motivation strategy can be selected.

The project presents at least one strategy for each type of motivation in order to approach these in the context of organization simulations. These strategies will be verified according to suitable criteria and will be classified within a comparative framework. The comparative framework offers an overview of which strategies are most suitable for which simulation context.

The Design Science approach of Hevner is applied.