PAXsims is pleased to present some thoughts on the value of simulations in political science from Joe Jaeger, CEO of the online international relations simulation Statecraft.
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When I first entered college I immediately started thinking about the degree I wanted to achieve. This, for the most part, was based on the career I wanted to pursue. At the time, I chose Political Science because I knew I either wanted to be a lawyer or a special agent for the FBI.
My parents immediately approached me recommending I pick a more technical degree. My first love is political science and I am truly fascinated by it, however, I chose to double major and pick up a business administration degree as well.
The fact of the matter is, a huge portion of employers in our economy are simply not interested in Political Science majors. They have the preconceived notion that the degree breeds thoughtful writers and researchers. These characteristics, while valuable, are not needed as much as the managers and problem solvers that many believe can be found in the business and economics fields.
Why is it that Political Science students don’t have the opportunity to problem solve and see the effect of their decisions as related to the political dynamics of a country and the world? These students learn about each regime change, every war, incredibly difficult decisions made by the president and cabinet members, and they research and make arguments as to the reason why these people made these decisions. Yet they are not given the chance to actually practice decision making in a way that the business community finds valuable.
As we operate and manage Statecraft, we see thousands of students every semester negotiating, budgeting, strategizing, preparing and implementing military campaigns, forging trade agreements, and problem solving on a weekly basis. We hand-pick our interns from the best presidents we see using the simulation. In order to be successful in Statecraft a student needs to have an in-depth understanding of International Relations concepts, but they also need to be able to apply them to their country’s choices while leading their team in a highly competitive world where other countries are actively trying to sabotage their strategies. There was not one assignment or class activity throughout my entire business degree that required the intense strategizing, negotiating, and problem-solving that students in Statecraft must endure.
What most professors in the field don’t know is that many of same concepts taught in International Relations are actually taught in business. Take prospect theory for instance: everyone in our company has to learn many of the concepts students interact with every semester in International Relations. In learning about prospect theory our CFO said, “what is this finance term doing here?” In finance, prospect theory is the notion that people value gains and losses differently.
Mirror imaging can create a false impression to a business about the projected actions of another business, which can cause a potentially ineffective strategy. Compellence, Deterrence, problems of credible commitment, comparative vs. absolute advantage, tragedy of the commons, bureaucratic politics, the organizational process, group think/polarization, motivated bias, attribution bias, relative vs. absolute gains, shadow of the future, the prisoner’s dilemma, and countless others all are relevant business strategy concepts actually taught during the senior year of many business degree programs.
In sum, simulations give political science professors the opportunity to immerse students in experiences that will prepare them for a wide range of employment opportunities. The more simulations are used in the social sciences a greater the number of students will choose to major in a social science field. We’ve already seen students put their accomplishments in Statecraft on their resume, and as a businessman I truly think they should!