Mahmoud, Mohamed with Peter Genta, "Microworld of an Open University: A Strategic Management Learning Laboratory", 1993

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This paper describes the work and experience gained by a team using a system thinking approach to developing a microworld to support the strategic planning of Athabasca University (AU), a fast growing opening university in western Canada. The opportunity for this experience arose from an invitation by the university President to teach an introductory course in Systems Thinking to a group of 30 senior management representing the faculty, administration, and the governing council. This work is intended to aid in understanding the dynamic forces which have allowed AU to double the number of courses registration in the past five years while lowering cost to government of providing access to AU from $1,179 to $635 per course registration (in constant dollars) since 1985. This work reports the experience of AU in building a Microworlds® system in order to accelerate organizational learning. The system is based on the system dynamics methodology and was developed using STELLA®. The system has been used to test different scenarios of strategic options which are almost impossible to evaluate otherwise. The system was validated against actual data and was used as management flight simulator to the system till year 2000. Repeated runs of the simulations have proved that quick fixes to one part of the system do not necessarily help its overall performance. It has been found that the process of constructing a simulation model is as valuable for problem solving as the final model itself.

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  • 1993
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