The Hong Kong Management Game provides a realistic, computer-simulated business environment in which teams try to outsmart each other with well-developed business strategies.
Participants enter the annual competition in teams of four and are required to create and operate their "own" companies. Amid a volatile business environment, they tackle a number of challenges to maximise profits and market share.
"The participants learn to apply management skills and make business decisions in various areas including labour, allocation of resources and production," says Glover Chan, senior marketing manager at the Hong Kong Management Association (HKMA), the competition organiser.
"Throughout the game, they are confronted with various challenges such as strike and resource constraints. As a team, they need to develop the best solutions to tackle the challenges. The competition emphasises the value of teamwork."
Participants are required to hone diverse skills in the fields of finance, production, investment and marketing in different economic conditions. They need to make sound business judgments consistently and integrate them into well-developed strategic plans.
The game benefits individuals who aspire to be managers by providing valuable learning experience in a competitive atmosphere. "It inspires the participants to [enhance] their knowledge of management skills and encourages them to analyse issues and develop solutions from the management's perspective. It also broadens their horizon," Chan adds.
The game features a sophisticated computer program that simulates a realistic business environment. Participants can relate to the issues raised during the game without the fear of failure. It allows players to practise specific skills in risk-taking, decision-making and negotiating. They learn practical skills in a stress-free environment.
Each team competes in a self-contained contest over eight accounting periods spread over two months. All rounds, except for the Hong Kong final, are played via e-mail. Teams must formulate decisions based on data provided in each round and submit their decisions once a week.
Throughout the eight rounds, the teams' decisions are assessed by judges. All competing teams will also receive a management report which provides updated information on their companies.
It shows the balance sheet and profit and loss accounts, plus a number of management accounts of individual companies. The best-performing teams will compete in the Hong Kong final. They will spend a full day competing on July 30, and the winner will represent Hong Kong in the Asian Management Game in September.
Since its launch in 1971, the competition has attracted more than 60 companies and organisations annually to supplement their classroom training for executives.
It has been regularly updated to reflect the dynamics of the real business world. For instance, the market size is upgraded to cater for situations in which some teams may be too aggressive in pricing and marketing or make abrupt changes in their strategies.
Meanwhile, decisions made by the competing teams will have more repercussions.
"In real life, a company's decision may have a number of indirect effects. For example, a company that refrains from raising prices may be seen as a good corporate citizen and the public will tend to be more tolerant when there is a small product defect. The simulation will now be able to produce similar outcomes from a simple decision of keeping the price unchanged," Chan adds.
"Although the simulation is a test of strategic decision-making, there are rules that participants are required to follow, such as budgeting rules. However, newcomers may not be fully aware of these rules, and that could prove costly. Facilities are added to the program to help teams identify possible input errors. It is still up to them to come up with sensible decisions to beat their competitors."
The four members of the winning team will each receive a round-trip Hong Kong-Singapore ticket and a shared cash prize of HK$10,000. The first runner-up team will receive HK$7,500 while the second runner-up will get HK$2,500.
This year's sponsors are Canon Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific Airways and Maxim's Group. South China Morning Post, Classified Post and Jiu Jik are the official media partners.
Features of Hong Kong Management Game 2011
Holistic approach Participants get a long-term view of company challenges as the competition runs for two months
Contingency management They learn to deal with corporate twists and turns
Strategic planning They gear up for simulated business situations
Teamwork advantage They learn to trade ideas and master communication techniques
Risk-free environment They can make bold decisions as it is only a simulation
Entry Fee HK$980 per team of four people
Registration Deadline May 20
Commencement June 1
Hong Kong Final July 30
Corporate twists that can test wits
Be prepared for any turn of events that could wipe out company profits, says Louis Ho Yun-lung, a member of Kwun Tong Maryknoll College (KTMC) Boys, the team which won last year's Hong Kong Management Game before going on to triumph in the Asian Management Game.
The other team members were Edmond Lee Yip-man, Eric Chan Kwok-san and Sam Wong Tsz-wa.
A final-year civil engineering student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Ho says unexpected twists are among the game's biggest challenges.
For instance, shortly after the KTMC Boys had decided against taking up an insurance policy for the goods they stored in a warehouse, a fire broke out and destroyed most of their merchandise. As a result, they had to double the production capacity to offset heavy losses and meet delivery commitments.
"[It] tested the team's adaptability and flexibility because each solution would lead to different ends," says Ho.
Although the game was designed as a self-contained contest, individual teams have to anticipate what the other competing teams are doing when they formulate business strategies with the aim of maximising their respective market shares and profits.
"We were able to acquire and then apply the relevant skills to realistic business situations. This went beyond what we could learn from textbooks," Ho says.
The game offers participants the opportunity to enhance their numerical skills and hone their analytical abilities in an exhilarating atmosphere.
"Although all of us who make up the team are close friends, this game tested how well we could work together. We had a lot of fun from teamwork and co-operation," he adds.