The ability to communicate effectively is important in conflict solving
The new BSc course on International Business and Strategy provided students with an opportunity to participate in a simulation of global conflict management and to experience firsthand how conflicts arise and how they might be managed. Conflicts are a common occurrence in today’s world and they impact international companies as they do business in other countries. Learning how to manage conflict, both within organizations and between external parties, is an important management skill.
The simulation was designed and administered by Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) as part of the annual Ahtisaari Days. CMI is an independent Finnish non-governmental organization that works to prevent and resolve violent conflicts through informal dialogue and mediation. It was founded by Martti Ahtisaari, a former President of Finland and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The simulation was facilitated by CMI’s Senior Advisor for Russia and Ukraine, Denis Matveev.
Listening, expressing oneself, and leveraging pre-existing relationships are important
The simulation scenario was about evolving conflict between two fictional countries, Looshland and Trissland. The causes of the conflict included human rights abuses on minorities, removal of historical statues, ethnic cleansing, and, as a result, fighting between the two countries. Fifteen students took part in the simulation and adopted various roles from the two countries – roles that had been pre-assigned to them the day before. The entire simulation process included a 15-minute introduction by the facilitator, 90 minutes for roleplay, and about 60 minutes for debriefing. The last part, actually, turned out to be a most valuable aspect of the learning process.
The ability to communicate effectively, which included listening, expressing oneself, and leveraging pre-existing relationships were important learning outcomes of the simulation.
'Since the simulation was scheduled early in the course, it also helped bring students together and acted as an icebreaker. According to one student, the course was much more useful and interesting than he expected!', tells Professor Rebecca Piekkari, who is currently teaching the course. Visiting Professor Vinod Jain was also teaching in the course, which was coordinated by Kalliopi Platanou.