Volume 13, 2016
A. Erin Bass, Erin G. Pleggenkuhle-Miles
The Tower Building Challenge
Introducing Stakeholder Management to MBA Students
The ability to consider and analyze different stakeholder interests is a skill required of today’s business students. This paper describes a 35-minute experiential exercise using Tinkertoys® or Legos® to demonstrate and reinforce the concept of stakeholder management. The exercise, the Tower Building Challenge (TBC), is targeted toward classes in business ethics, strategy, or decision-making and requires students to work in groups to build a tower with the underpinning challenge that each group member has a different interest in how the tower should be built. Student feedback reflects on the difficulty of satisfying all stakeholders when making business decisions, the importance of making the interests of stakeholders transparent to enhance cooperation and the effectiveness of the decision-making process, and the need for stakeholder management when considering business decisions that impact stakeholders. Following this experiential exercise, students’ preliminary understanding presents an opportunity for a deeper discussion of stakeholder management. Specifically, students are prompted to consider stakeholder interests as joint, rather than opposed, when engaged in stakeholder management.