Bringing Outdated Curricula into the 21st Century

How the Tuck School of Business reimagined a 40-year-old simulation to expose students to the bigger picture of business.

Simulation RebootSchools often retire outdated courses or educational tools, but sometimes they find ways to resurrect them for the modern classroom. That’s what happened at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Last November, it returned to its curriculum a reimagined version of the simulation Tycoon: the Tuck Management Game, first created by professor James Brian Quinn in 1974. In its original version, student teams ran fictional clock-making businesses in a weeklong simulation. Tycoon was phased out of use in 2000.

Its latest incarnation is now called TuckINTEL (Integrative Experiential Learning). Delivered as a mini-course for second-year MBA students, TuckINTEL “is Tycoon for the 21st-century,” says Praveen Kopalle, associate dean of the MBA program. Kopalle developed the reworked game and new course with Richard Sansing, associate dean for faculty and the Noble Foundation Professor of Accounting.

Where Tycoon focused almost solely on strategy, the new version asks students to look at the bigger picture of business. Kopalle and Sansing worked with faculty across the curriculum to incorporate in the game learning objectives from finance, accounting, marketing, communications, statistics, economics, decision science, strategy and management, and operations.

Kopalle and Sansing piloted the new game last April and May, before running it for the first time as a mini-course at the end of November. In TuckINTEL, students run companies in the renewable energy sector—specifically, urban wind power generation. Students work in teams of four or five to run a company over several years, each year bringing with it different priorities related to strategy, marketing, production, cash flow, and funding.

Before each deadline, students input their data into the platform, which then indicates how their decisions have impacted their performance. Throughout the simulation, faculty help students manage team dynamics and reflect on each round’s results.

As a reimagined form of Tycoon, TuckINTEL not only is customized to suit Tuck’s curriculum and reinforce each course’s learning objectives, but also gives students the freedom of deciding when and how to apply knowledge, says Ankitha Rajendra Kartha, a student who participated in the May pilot. “We had to evaluate for ourselves and say, ‘OK, maybe we should do a net-present-value, or maybe we should suggest a capital expenditure for the next year.’ I needed to figure out what concept to use, and how to use it.”