Simulated Business Problems for Trainees

In this method the participant is given a number of business papers such as memoranda reports and telephone messages that would typically cross a manager’s desk. The papers presented in a particular sequence, call for actions ranging from urgent to routine handling. The participant is required to act on the information contained in these papers. Assigning a priority to each particular matter is initially required.

If the trainee is asked to decide issues within a time frame it creates a healthy competition among participants. The method is simple and easy to follow. Trainees learn quickly as they have to list priorities make assumptions assign work to others and get things done within a time frame. Since participants hail from various sections, it is easy to put out inter-departmental fires. On the negative side the method is somewhat academic and removed from real life situations. The participants knowing fully well that they are handling an imaginary situation, may not be too excited about the whole exercise and may not fully commit themselves to the task.

Case study:

This training method that employs simulated business problems for trainees to solve. The individual is expected to study the information given in the case and make decisions based on the situation. If the student is provided a case involving an actual company, he is expected to research the firm to gain a better appreciation of its financial condition and corporate culture. Typically the case method is used in the class room with an instructor who serves as a facilitator. Experienced trainers readily point out that the case study is most appropriate where:

1) Analytic problem solving and thinking skills are most important
2) The KSAs are complex and participants need time to master them.
3) Active participation is required.
4) The process of learning (questioning, interpreting etc) is as important as the content.
5) Team problem solving and interaction is possible.

Merits and Demerits of the Case Study Method


1) Improves problem solving skills of participants
2) Trainees can apply theory to practical problems and learn quickly. It is a way of learning by doing.
3) Trainees learn how others solve a situation in their own unique way. They get a feel of how others work at a problem and begin to appreciate each other’s thinking.
4) Case studies can provide interesting debates among trainees, as well as excellent opportunities for individuals to defend their analytical and judgmental abilities.
5) If the case reflects a real life situation participants take a keen interest and examine the cross currents with an open and inquisitive mind.


1) Good case studies do not originate easily. They are costly and time consuming (collect data, analyze, report, summarize) exercises.
2) Examining historical evidence may fail to develop the analytical and reasoning abilities of participants
3) Cases sometimes are not sufficiently realistic to be useful.
4) Cases may contain information inappropriate to the kinds of decisions that trainees would make in a real setting.
5) Indiscriminate use of case studies may not help participants who are not mature enough to analyze and participate in discussions actively.
6) A trainee who is not skilled in this technique can undermine its usefulness
7) The case study method has little or nothing in common with the trainee’s workplace which may limit its effectiveness.

The success of this method is closely linked to the maturity and experience of the trainer who should facilitate the group‘s learning keep participants on track and help them see the underlying management concepts in the case clearly. Further it is also necessary to come up with good case material based on real life situations and present the same before the trainees in an interesting manner. When cases are meaningful and are similar to work related situations trainees can certainly improve their decisions making skills and problems solving abilities.

Source: HRM