Balancing Pedagogy

Supplementing Cases with Policy Simulations in Public Affairs Education
  • Michael I. Luger


This chapter presents a case for a better balance in public policy and management curricula between case studies and policy simulations. Policy simulations are defined as exercises that require students to act as participants in a decision process whose outcome is not known a priori. The contours of the situation are loosely drawn, so the context can be adapted to the student’s time and place.

In the first section, I provide a critique of the case method and a caricature of the case study “industry,” that is, the institutions that produce and disseminate cases and therefore have a stake in their widespread use. I report data from a survey of membership of the Association for Public Policy and Management (APPAM) about the extent of case study use in APPAM-member schools. Then I describe in some detail the “policy simulation” alternative and document its growing use in our schools. I provide some interesting examples, also from the survey. The concluding section makes my case for a greater emphasis on policy simulations to balance the pedagogy in public affairs education. I argue that simulations are more in line with twenty-first-century learning styles that emphasize multimedia, web-based, interactive material; more consistent with the wicked nature of policy problems; and more likely to solve the problem that the authors of cases have faced, namely, that their products are not considered scholarly and do not count for tenure and promotion. I argue that the development and promotion of policy simulations need to be made part of the case study industry.


Case studies management education policy simulations public policy 


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© Iris Geva-May 2005

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  • Michael I. Luger

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