Integrating LINKS Simulation Games into a Relationship Marketing Course

Integrating LINKS Simulation Games into a Relationship Marketing Course

Sijun Wang, Marketing

A fundamental shift has occurred in marketing from managing and marketing products/services to understanding and managing customers (Rust, Zeithaml, and Lemon 2000). Now almost every company of any size has announced a renewed focus on the customer. Such a sea-change in corporate strategy mandates knowledge around managing customer experience, understanding customer value, developing profitable customer relationships. Thus, developing a new relationship marketing course for LMU marketing majors provides substantial value to our students for their future career success.

Relationship marketing encompasses three levels of skills and knowledge, namely strategic, operational, and analytical. In the Spring of 2011, I will be teaching the first class of Relationship Marketing (RM) where I have mainly adopted pedagogic techniques around these three levels; cases studies and class seminars will be utilized for building operational level of skills, SPSS and JMP software-based statistic labs for analytical level of skills, and LINKS simulation game will be adopted to enhance strategic thinking ability. LINKS simulation game has never been adopted either by myself or by other LMU colleagues. My literature search and informal interviews with colleagues from other marketing departments in the nation seemed to suggest that RM courses were relatively new and taught in a rather traditional fashion. Given the novelty and complexity of RM course and LINKS simulation game, there are at least two important questions crying for systematic examination in order to design an effective RM course.

First, how should LINKS simulation game be integrated into the RM course? Second, how to overcome the possible learning barriers occurred to students during the game? The purpose of this project is to research into the educational values of the simulation game and how to integrate the simulation game with other components such as lectures and data analyses labs.