AACSB Blog

Young man viewing cityscape through virtual reality headset.

Virtual Reality in Leadership Development


Posted August 07, 2018 by Hanna McLeod - Senior Manager, Research - AACSB International

Business schools have long supported the value of experiential learning as a way to engage students and help them better understand certain concepts by actually living them out. As the benefits of “learning by doing” continue to surface, some business schools have looked to technology as a way to not only scale certain learning experiences but to provide students with other, innovative opportunities for applying theory to practice. VR is one such technology, and increasing numbers of business schools are leveraging the technology to aid in student leadership development, whether through acting out certain case studies, or experiencing a “choose your own adventure” exercise where students see and experience the actual outcomes based on their decisions, within a virtual environment.

Below are three examples of business schools using VR as a learning tool that were shared in AACSB’s 2018 Innovations That Inspire challenge.

ExE-6netic Program

NEOMA Business School (France)

With a focus on experiential learning, NEOMA Business School launched the ExE-6netic program, which uses virtual reality (VR) to immerse students (from undergraduate to MBA) into a marketing case study in both French and English. With the use of a VR headset, smartphone, and ExE-6netic app, students are immersed in a retail environment where they are presented with various organizational scenarios that they must navigate through, practice strategic decision-making, and develop their analytical skills. Students can work both individually and in groups with the goal of applying their theoretical classroom knowledge into “real” scenarios.

Through the use of VR, NEOMA aims to encourage students to be more engaged in their own learning process, as well as to create an interactive sensorial experience that helps to avoid learning routines and motivates them to develop intellectual agility and problem-solving skills in a constantly changing world and business environment.

Virtual Reality Case Studies on Ethical Leadership

University of St. Thomas-Minnesota, Opus College of Business (USA)

MBA students at the Opus College of Business have the ability to develop their ethical leadership skills through a VR-enabled leadership simulation using Google Cardboard. The VR case study allows students to progress through a scripted case study simulation by making decisions that yield different outcomes, based on Ken Goodpaster’s Four Avenues Approach to ethical decision-making. After students complete the simulation they watch an interview with the person about whom the case study was written, as well as perform an individual journal exercise and group discussion with classmates.

Digital Immersion for Leadership Sustainability

Victoria University of Wellington, Victoria Business School (New Zealand)

Victoria Business School students take a virtual fieldtrip to Fiji in order to learn about sustainable development in alignment with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The business school saw a need to prepare its students with the appropriate leadership skills needed for sustainable development with particular attention toward providing experiences that inspire a global mindset. Using HTC Vive, students visit a virtual island based on an actual Fijian island and community and are presented with leadership exercises where they must work with the island locals and confront challenges that may arise with business development in unfamiliar places, and that might create tensions or have significant impacts in their communities.

About Innovations That Inspire

With over 100 submissions from 25 countries and territories, the 2018 Innovations That Inspire collection illustrates business education’s commitment to being at the forefront on leadership development. Thirty of these innovations were featured at AACSB’s 2018 Deans Conference and are available for public browsing. The complete collection of Innovations That Inspire, including the 2016 and 2017 collections, can be found using AACSB’s DataDirect database.

To learn more about trends and developments in virtual and augmented reality, read the newly published brief Technologies With Potential to Transform Business and Business Education: Virtual and Augmented Reality.

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