How The Business Strategy Game Works — A Quick Overview

In The Business Strategy Game, 1 to 5 class members are assigned to operate an athletic footwear company that produces and markets both branded and private-label footwear and competes head-to-head against footwear companies run by other members of the class. As many as 12 companies can compete in a single industry grouping (class sizes above 50 are typically divided into two or more industry groups). The companies compete in a global market arena, selling in four geographic regions—Europe-Africa, North America, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.

The co-managers of each company are responsible for assessing market conditions, determining how to respond to the actions of competitors, forging a long-term direction and strategy for their company, forecasting upcoming sales volumes, and making decisions relating to:

  • Production operations (up to 10 decisions for each plant, with a maximum of 4 plants)
  • Upgrading plants and expanding/reducing plant capacity (up to 6 decisions per plant)
  • Worker compensation and training (3 decisions per plant)
  • Shipping and inventory management (up to 8 decisions each plant/geographic region)
  • Pricing and marketing (up to 10 decisions in each of 4 geographic regions)
  • Bids to sign celebrities to endorse their brand of footwear (2 decision entries per bid)
  • Corporate social responsibility and citizenship (up to 6 decision entries)
  • Financing of company operations (up to 8 decision entries)

Each time co-managers make a decision entry, an assortment of on-screen calculations instantly shows the projected effects on unit sales, revenues, market shares, total profit, earnings per share, ROE, unit costs, and other pertinent operating outcomes, enabling co-managers to evaluate the relative merits of one decision entry versus another. Company managers can experiment with many different decision combinations in in arriving at a decision combination and set of actions that seem likely to yield good company performance. In addition, there are2-4 minute video tutorials for each decision screenandcomprehensive Help sectionsthat explain cause-effect relationships, provide tips and suggestions, explain how the numbers in the company and industry reports are calculated, and otherwise inform company co-managers how things work.

Each company typically seeks to enhance its performance and build competitive advantage via more attractive pricing, a bigger selection of footwear styles and models, more appealing footwear styling and quality, greater advertising, bigger mail-in rebates, contracting with celebrities to endorse its brand, providing more merchandising and promotional support to retailers, shorter shipping and delivery times, and more aggressive promotion of online purchases at its Web site.

Any and all types of competitive strategy—low-cost leadership, differentiation, best-cost provider, focused low-cost, and focused differentiation—are viable options. A company can try to gain an edge over rivals with more advertising or a wider selection of models or more appealing styling/quality or bigger rebates or securing more appealing celebrity endorsements, and so on. It can focus on one or two geographic regions or strive for geographic balance. It can pursue essentially the same strategy worldwide or craft slightly or very different strategies for each of the four geographic regions. It can alter its emphasis on selling branded shoes through footwear retailers or at the company’s Web site. It can place more or less emphasis on winning bids to produce private-label footwear for chain retailers.

Each company’s performance is based on a balanced scorecard that includes brand image, earnings per share, return on equity investment, stock price appreciation, and credit rating.

You have the option to schedule 1 or 2 practice rounds (2 is recommended) and anywhere from 4 to 10 regular (scored) decision rounds (6 to 10 rounds are better than 3-5 rounds). Each decision round represents a year of company operations and takes roughly two hours for company co-managers to complete.Decision rounds can be scheduled weekly, bi-weekly, or at whatever intervals instructors wish.Sample schedules for courses of varying length and numbers of class meetings are provided.

When the instructor-specified deadline for a decision round arrives, the BSG server automatically accesses the saved decision entries of each company, determines the competitiveness and buyer appeal of each company’s product offering relative to rival companies, and then allocates sales and market shares to the competing companies, geographic region by geographic region, based on:

  • how each company’s prices compare against the prices of rival brands,
  • how each company’s footwear styling/quality compares against the quality of rival brands,
  • how each company’s product line breadth and selection compares to those of rival companies,
  • how each company’s advertising effort compares to rivals’ advertising, and so on for a total of 11 competitive factors that determine unit sales and market shares.

There’s no built-in bias favoring any one strategy and no “secret set of strategic moves” that are sure to result in a company becoming the industry leader.BSG is a “competition-based” strategy simulation exercise wherethe outcomes are always unique to the competitive interplay among the specific decisions and strategies of each group of competing companies.Which strategies end up delivering the best performance in any given group of 4 to 12 companies that are competing head-to-head always depends on the competitive interplay among the specific decisions and strategies of rival companies—there absolutely is no “magic bullet” strategyor prescribed set of actions that will guarantee good company performance.

Company co-managers can access the results of the decision round 15-20 minutes after the decision deadline.Rankings of company performance, along with a wealth of industry and company statistics, are available to company co-managers after each decision round to use in making strategy adjustments and decisions for the next competitive round.

All The Business Strategy Game activities for class members and instructors take place here atwww.bsg-online.com.


The Teaching / Learning Benefits

There are three exceptionally important teaching/learning benefits associated with using a competition-based simulation like The Business Strategy Game:
  1. Having class members run a company in head-to-head competition against companies managed by other class members provides a truly powerful learning experience that thrusts class members squarely into an active, hands-on managerial role. The co-managers of each company are totally responsible for assessing market conditions, determining how to respond to the actions of competitors, forging a long-term direction and strategy for their company, forecasting upcoming sales volumes, and making decisions relating to workforce compensation and plant operations, capacity expansion, distribution center operations and inventory management, pricing and marketing, finance, and corporate social responsibility/citizenship.

    Because company co-managers are held fully accountable for their decisions and their company’s performance, they are strongly motivated to dig deeply into company operations, probe for ways to be more cost-efficient and competitive, and ferret out strategic moves and decisions calculated to boost company performance. It doesn’t take long for company co-managers to become emotionally invested in figuring out what strategic moves to make to out-compete rivals. Such diligent and purposeful actions on the part of company co-managers translate into an engaging learning experience with strong retention of the lessons learned and higher achievement of course learning objectives.

    To provide you with quantitative evidence of the boost in learning power and achievement of course objectives that occurs with using Business Strategy Game, there is a built-in Learning Assurance Report showing how well each class member performs on 9 skills/learning measures versus tens of thousands of students at some 600+ campuses worldwide that used Business Strategy Game in the past 12 months.

  2. The competitive nature of a strategy simulation arouses positive energy and steps up the whole tempo of the course by a notch or two. The healthy rivalry that emerges among the management teams of competing companies stirs competitive juices and spurs class members to fully exercise their strategic wits, analytical skills, and decision-making prowess—much more so than occurs with many other types of assignments.

    Nothing energizes a class quicker or better than concerted efforts on the part of class members to gain a high industry ranking and avoid the perilous consequences of getting outcompeted by class members running rival companies. It is hard to duplicate the excitement and hallway chatter that occurs when the results of the latest decision round become available and co-managers renew their quest for strategic moves and actions that will strengthen company performance.

    Participating in a competition-based strategy simulation is an unusually stimulating and enjoyable way for class members to learn. As soon as your students start to say “Wow! Not only is this fun but I am learning a lot”, which they will, you have moved the value of taking your course to a much higher plateau in the business school curriculum. This translates into a livelier, richer learning experience from a student perspective and better instructor-course evaluations.

  3. The automated nature of Business Strategy Game reduces the time instructors spend on course preparation, course administration, and grading. Not only are administrative requirements for using BSG quite modest, but since the simulation also involves a 20 to 30-hour workload for student-teams (roughly 2 hours per decision round times 10-12 rounds, plus optional BSG-related assignments), adopters often compensate by trimming the volume of other course assignments (often those that entail considerable preparation and/or grading on the instructor’s part). Grading for Business Strategy Game is effortless and takes only minutes. Once you enter percentage grading weights for each BSG activity in your online grade book, an overall numerical grade is automatically calculated for each class member.

    Course preparation time is further cut because you can use several class days to have class members meet in the computer lab to work on upcoming decision rounds or a 3-year strategic plan (in lieu of lecturing on a chapter or covering an additional assigned case). Lab sessions provide a splendid opportunity for you to visit with teams, observe the interplay among co-managers, and view the caliber of the learning experience that is going on.

    The speed and ease with which you can conduct a fully-automated strategy simulation for your course frees time for other activities. Plus, every task can be performed from an office or home PC that has an Internet connection and an Internet browser.


Features, Cost, and Payment Options

Simulation-Only Option

$44.95per student

Simulation Features
  • Full Instructor Access to All Materials at No Cost
  • 24/7/365 Online Availability
  • Built-in Voice Chat and Shared-Screen Collaboration Capabilities (Team members can have online meetings to talk, text, and coordinate decision entries and view reports; instructors can join these meetings)
  • Windows & Mac Compatibility
  • 3-Year Strategic Plan Option
  • 2 Built-in Quizzes
  • Post-Simulation Comprehensive Exam
  • Team Member Peer Evaluations
  • Scoreboard of Company Performance
  • Player's Guide
  • Instructor's Manual
  • Integrated & Automated Gradebook
  • 2 Learning Assurance Reports
3 Payment Options(click for details)
  • Credit Card
  • Pre-Paid Access Code
  • Direct Billing

ValuePak Option

Simulation + Text + Optional Cases

$114.95per student

Simulation Features
  • Full Instructor Access to All Materials at No Cost
  • 24/7/365 Online Availability
  • Built-in Voice Chat and Shared-Screen Collaboration Capabilities (Team members can have online meetings to talk, text, and coordinate decision entries and view reports; instructors can join these meetings)
  • Windows & Mac Compatibility
  • 3-Year Strategic Plan Option
  • 2 Built-in Quizzes
  • Post-Simulation Comprehensive Exam
  • Team Member Peer Evaluations
  • Scoreboard of Company Performance
  • Player's Guide
  • Instructor's Manual
  • Integrated & Automated Gradebook
  • 2 Learning Assurance Reports
Features of Accompanying Text
Strategy: Core Concepts and Analytical Approaches, 2016/2017 Edition
by Arthur A. Thompson, The University of Alabama
  • 12 Chapters, 248 pages (a digitally-delivered slimmed-down version of Crafting and Executing Strategy, published by McGraw-Hill)
  • Exercises Linking Chapters to Simulation
  • Chapter Quizzes / Multi-Chapter Exams
  • Learning Assurance Report
  • Integrated & Automated Gradebook
  • PowerPoint Slides for Chapters
  • View more details on the digitally-delivered text
A Library of 30 Optional Cases
  • Each Case You Opt to Include Is Digitally-Delivered
  • Each Case Has a Comprehensive Teaching Note, and Many Have Accompanying Videos.
  • Each Case Selected for Inclusion In Your Customized ValuePak Adds $5.00 to the Standard ValuePak Price of $114.95.
3 Payment Options(click for details)
  • Credit Card
  • Pre-Paid Access Code
  • Direct Billing

The Learning Assurance Report

One Learning Assurance Report provides you with solid empirical data regarding the business skills and decision-making capabilities of the students in your class relative to students at other business schools across the world. The report provides you with credible evidence about the business proficiencies of your students on each of 9 measures that are precisely defined at the bottom of the report. The three measures relating to "Leadership Skills", "Collaboration & Teamwork", and "Analytical Skills" are based on each student's individual performance as viewed by their company co-managers and their performance on Quiz 2; the other 5 measures are all based on data relating to the performance of the group of co-managers comprising each company in the simulation. The percentiles shown in the report are based on the total population of students worldwide playing The Business Strategy Game over the past twelve months.



The second LAR shows each class member’s score on the 40-question post-simulation comprehensive exam (out of a possible 100 points) together with each student's percentile ranking vis-à-vis all other students worldwide who took the comprehensive exam in the past 12 months. This LAR not only reflects what individual students have learned from the simulation but also provides empirical evidence of compliance with AACSB standards.

View Sample Report

Schools / Institutions using BSG

In 2014, The Business Strategy Game was used by 51,706 students in 2,888 classes/sections at 597 college/university campus locations in 53 different countries. Click the button below to view the current adoption list by school/campus/institution/company and country (state).

View Current Adoption List

Is BSG suitable for an International Business course?

The Business Strategy Game is eminently suitable for those international business courses at the senior/MBA levels where the instructor wants to put strong emphasis on “global strategic management.” Incorporating The Business Strategy Game can enrich an international business course from several angles:

  • It mirrors the increasingly global nature of today’s competitive markets.
  • There are four distinct geographic market segments — Europe-Africa, North America, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. The four regional markets plus the three product segments (branded internet, branded wholesale, and private-label) create a virtual market-space with 12 market segments.
  • Companies start the simulation on equal global and financial footing where rival companies find themselves in the midst of an ongoing contest for global market leadership. The contest is not just one of market leadership worldwide but one where companies contend for leadership in one or more of the 12 market segments. This contest gives students powerful insight into the dynamics and nuances of a globally competitive marketplace.
  • Furthermore, the structural feature of The Business Strategy Game marketplace setting makes The Business Strategy Game “country and region neutral” so that students in Europe or Latin America or Hong Kong or Australia or South Africa do not see themselves as playing a United States simulation or managing a U.S.-based company. The Business Strategy Game is just as appropriate for use in international business courses taught in Switzerland or Great Britain or Mexico or Singapore or South Africa or Australia or Brazil as in the United States.
  • The Business Strategy Game incorporates the use of import duties (which can be raised or lowered between any or all geographic regions).
  • The Business Strategy Game puts fluctuating exchange rates into play. The revenues a company receives from footwear shipments to Europe-Africa are tied to real-world fluctuations between the euro and the U.S. dollar. BSG automatically captures the pertinent changes in exchange rates from one decision to the next and presents the sizes of the latest upward/downward adjustments on the relevant decision screens for company managers to utilize in their decision-making. Thus, students will experience first-hand the business risks and impacts of exchange rate fluctuations.
  • The Business Strategy Game provides you with a “live case” that you can use in your lectures to illustrate the application of key concepts in international business.
  • The Business Strategy Game can serve as a full or partial substitute for the use of cases on international business cases.
We think you will discover that The Business Strategy Game will inject enormous energy and emotional involvement into an international business course from a student standpoint. Plus, it will provide a pedagogically effective way to connect the material in the textbook to the strategy-related problems of managing cross-border business activities in the real world.

Create Instructor Account

Creating an account is welcomed and entails no obligation. Establishing an account entitles you to browse the site in the capacity of an instructor or "simulation administrator", preview whether The Business Strategy Game is suitable for use in your course (or company training program), and enables you to launch use of BSG in a course or training program for which you are the official instructor or facilitator or other duly authorized assistant. McGraw-Hill will verify your credentials and, in some cases, it is possible that a McGraw-Hill representative will contact you by phone or e-mail soon to confirm your status.

User Agreement

Should I adopt Business Strategy Game for use in my course, I agree to require every student enrolled in my course to register a student account at the BSG Web site (www.bsg-online.com) and I agree to encourage student respect for the intellectual property and copyrights of the authors and the publisher, McGraw-Hill.

I understand that BSG will inform me via e-mail when there are important system changes, program updates, or special events that impact the use of Business Strategy Game in courses that I am teaching.

   I accept the terms of this user agreement.
in addition to the bsg-online.com Terms of Use.

(Click here for more information on why every student should register.)