Bottom Line: Defining Success in the Creation of a Business Simulation

Robert Sean Mulcahy


This paper describes Bottom Line, a hybrid technology/classroom business simulation designed to help interns at an auditing/tax/consulting firm better understand the industry they are entering and the resource trade-offs that professional services firms make to stay competitive. This paper describes the sim on three different levels, the simulation level, the game level, and the instructional level, and the design choices made at each level, some of which were influenced by significant resource constraints. Bottom Line’s learning gains and ROI were not evaluated objectively—in fact, given objectives more focused on thought provocation than content teaching, it is unlikely it would score well on any level of the Kirkpatrick scale beyond the first. Despite that, and despite significant design and development weaknesses, it was seen as an unqualified success by the sponsoring organization. A discussion of what success means concludes this paper.

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