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Enhancing Teamwork in Business Simulations for University Courses: How to Avoid Free-riding.

Ability to successfully work in teams is crucial for nowadays working life, and universities need to acknowledge that when creating study programmes and courses. Team-building and organising for collaboration should be an integral part of university courses. One of the tools to embed these skills into the curriculum is to use business simulations. Business simulations can create an immersive learning environment that reflects real-world scenarios, emphasising the criticality of collaboration even more.


However, free riding—where some team members benefit without contributing—is a concern in all team-based learning. In this article, we'll explore strategies to strengthen teamwork and tackle free riding in business simulations.

A women in the office
Image author: Andrea Piacquadio

Building Team Spirit in University Courses:

Effective teamwork begins with a solid foundation of team spirit. University courses that integrate business simulations should allocate time for team-building exercises. Icebreakers, collaborative games, and open dialogues foster connections, trust, and a shared sense of purpose among students. Preparations for the collaborative simulation game experience in the form of team assignments can also promote team spirit. A feeling of togetherness fosters active engagement, minimising the chances of free riding.


Optimising Task Allocation:

To prevent free riding, strategic task allocation is essential. Assigning meaningful tasks aligned with students' skills and interests helps to ensure equitable participation. Professors should underscore the significance of distributing responsibilities fairly and encourage open communication about individual capabilities. At the same time, team members should be open for discussion to find meaningful tasks for each participant.


Transparent Communication and Expectations:

Clear communication is pivotal in mitigating misunderstandings that may lead to free riding. Instructors must outline expectations, deadlines, and roles explicitly. Encouraging open channels for communication and regular updates ensures everyone is well-informed. Well-defined roles and expectations pave the way for reduced instances of free riding.

Educators can help by including such assignments as reflection papers, where each team member describes their teamwork experience and evaluates each member´s contribution. Knowing that each team member's contribution will be assessed by their teammates may help to contribute to the team work in a positive and constructive way.


The RealGame Solution for University Courses:

RealGame recognizes the unique challenges of teamwork in business simulations and offers solutions to engage students and organise for collaboration:


  • Task Variety

RealGame's simulations feature diverse tasks that necessitate team collaboration. By dividing tasks that contribute to the simulation's success, students are activated to work together, ensuring a balanced contribution from each team member.

  • Integrated Team-Building

RealGame incorporates team-building assignments to accompany simulations. These tasks cultivate teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Through interactive challenges, students learn to leverage each others’ strengths, facilitating effective collaboration.

  • Quantifying Contributions

RealGame acknowledges that to maintain the students’ internal motivation it is important to track results in real-time and understand how their actions contribute to the success of the whole team. Real-time-operated business simulations demonstrate the development of business operations without delay and show how each action impacts theteam´s results. In addition, RealGame Business Intelligence provides performance metrics that quantify individual contributions within the team. This transparency encourages active participation and highlights each student's role in achieving mutual goals.


Effective team work in the office
Image Author: Christina Morillo

Enhancing Teamwork in University Business Simulations

In the context of university courses involving business simulations, nurturing teamwork while deterring free riding is paramount. By dedicating time to fostering team spirit, allocating tasks strategically, and encouraging transparent communication, instructors can markedly reduce instances of free riding. RealGame's approach to education reinforces these efforts by introducing task variety, integrated team-building, and performance tracking. In tandem, these strategies empower students to collaborate seamlessly, ensuring an enriching learning experience in business dynamics and supply chain management courses.


Learn how to choose a perfect business simulation in our Comprehensive Guide to Choosing an Ideal Business Simulation for Your Course.


This text was created by the RealGame Business Simulation team.


RealGame business simulation logo

RealGame is a Finnish business simulation provider. RealGame creates simulations based on decades of experience and latest academic research. Business simulations by RealGame are created by educators for educators with a purpose of providing hands-on experiences and an understanding of how supply chain operations evolve continuously, hour by hour. RealGame is unique in that it has a clock-driven operational mode, which allows for generating transaction-specific data for business analysis and strategic planning.


Please cite this as:

RealGame (2023). Enhancing Teamwork in Business Simulations for University Courses: How to Avoid Free-riding. Realgame.fi. Retrieved [Date], from https://www.realgame.fi/



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