Year

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Management and Marketing

Abstract

The industry and academic literature both express serious concerns about the current approach to business higher education. Two key issues frequently noted are the silo disciplinary focus, resulting in business graduates with little or no cross-functional business skills, and the lack of exposure to responsible decision-making practices. Both scholars and practitioners have proposed that the issues with the current undergraduate business education approach warrant rethinking of traditional business teaching and learning models. This study sets out to evaluate an alternate approach to teaching and learning responsible decision making in undergraduate business education.

This thesis reports on the design, development, implementation and evaluation of a web-based systems approach to teaching and learning responsible decision making. The design required gaining an understanding of the intricate multifaceted relationships of responsible decision making. Development included formulating the multidimensionality of organisational phenomena that includes responsible decision making from design into a computer simulation. The web-based systems approach, which includes a number of learning resources along with the computer simulation, were completed by the researcher and implemented in an undergraduate business school environment. Evaluation used a mixed-methods approach to understand the impact of a web-based systems approach to the responsible decision making of undergraduate business students. The evaluation of the impact of the web-based simulation on final-year undergraduate business students included quantitative research utilising a pre- and post-test Likert scale, while qualitative research used observations and reflection surveys.

The key findings suggest that interactive decision making via a unique web-based simulation changes undergraduate business students’ attitudes towards responsible decision making. Students’ learning journeys suggests skill development through multidisciplinary teamwork highlighting different approaches and impact across business disciplines and across domestic and international students.

The thesis contributes to the growing research on the dynamics of business, environment and society. In particular, it contributes by providing an effective instructional method for business educators for delivering an interdisciplinary learning experience through active student engagement, experience and feedback through simulation. Additionally, the thesis contributes to understanding the learning journey of undergraduate business students and the impact of a holistic experiential teaching learning environment on responsible organisational decision making.

The contributions have implications for theory and practice. In terms of theory, the study findings have implications for multiple identification theory (MIT) and the conscious competence learning model. Contributions to practice include the availability of a unique web-based systems simulation model (IDLE) for curriculum design in undergraduate business education with potential for applications in other learning environments in secondary school and industry.

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