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What is the potential of management games in international relations ?


Management Game Techniques and International NGOs (Part #9)


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Games have great potential as research and training tools in all areas involving administration and decision-making. For example, one game has been developed to attempt to simulate the problems and interactions during United Nations peace negotiations, in this case the nuclear disarmement treaty (ref. 4). In the past few years, ILO experts in management development have used business games in various countries, adapting the game to the conditions of each particular country, usually in a simplified form to be used without the need of a computer. On the business side, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business has developed the first major business simulation exercise oriented toward the specific problems of international trade and cooperation by multi-national corporations. The game covers problems in four areas (U.S.A., E.E.C., Brazil, Liechtenstein), whose inhabitants represent three different cultures. The corporations may choose to become members of a fictive World Federation of Appliance Manufacturers and can then, if they pay their dues, receive this NGO's magazine, which contains information on changes in the international market (see ref. 7). Efforts have also been made to simulate the behaviour of particular countries. Two projects are of special interest to international organizations.

The first is an international relations game developed as part of the International Relations Program at Northwestern University, U. S. A. (for an analysis of some other international relations games, see ref. 1; for a bibliography on simulation in international relations, see ref. 9). The game operates at a number of levels, with humans serving as 'decision-makers,' who are assembled into 'nations', which in turn interrelate with each other, as well as with surrogate 'governments' acting for 'international organizations,' forming an 'international system.' These components are interlaced with each other through interaction of the decision-makers, both within their nations and between the nations, as well as through a set of computed programs, which helps to provide the capabilities and restraints of the simulation. The game involves 5-7 teams of 3-7 persons each. Each team represents a nation which has one member as ruler. The rulers make decisions on political,

economic, and other factors. The decision-makers of each nation can freely develop relations between their states as their circumstances dictate. Each ruler must satisfy his voters but may follow policies of any shade from capitalist to totalitarian. International governmental organizations may be formed. The game is manually scored by an umpire staff. It has been used by college students and professional diplomats and is now available commercially as a kit for educational and research purposes (see ref. 10). During one run, as an example (ref. 5) :

'two large powers established an international grant-in-aid corporation to which the dissident smaller powers, flirting with aggressive national policies, might apply for grants-in-aid. The external ministers who manned the corporation, however, squabbled so much among themselves that, before the terms of the grants were formulated, the smaller countries experienced internal disorders, with many changes in their decision-makers. The disagreements among the great powers and the disorders within the smaller powers eventuated in a world war. It was interesting to note that the postwar peace treaty provided, among other things, for reestablishment of an international grant-in-aid corporation, this time with a worldwide membership on its board.'

The game as it stands has only 5-7 teams. Many theories in international relations can be built and tested with such a limited number of nations. In order to simulate situations in the real world more accurately, however, the effects of many new social entities must be brought into the model. The more that are introduced, the more fruitful and representative the model hecomes, and the more difficult it is to check. It is to be hoped that future computer and mathematical techniques will enable researchers to represent, within the same model, the effects of relations between all the different social entities mentioned in the following passage on model checking by Prof. H. Guetzkow (ref. 9, pp. 262-3) :

'Once one abandons the level of the total system and begins to work with large social groupings, such as nations and international organizations, one has many entities available for validation studies. The world contains approximately 120 countries. There are about 200 intergovernmental organizations (IGO's).

Add to these roughly 2,000 international organizations of the non-governmental variety (NGO's), along with 1,000 to 1,500 international businesses. One then has a universe of almost 5,000 entities, counting such quasiunits as alliances among the states. If one were to work with the interest groups related to external matters in each of the 120 countries, one would have a population of at least another 5,000 entities.

Moving to the level of the person: were one to check the validity of the simulate decision- makers against the political leaders themselves, those making and executing policy in the foreign ministries throughout the world (about 35,000), the international civil servants who operate the official and non-governmental international organizations (an additional 10,000), and the international business executives (another 5,000), one would have a universe of approximately 50,000 individuals.'

The other project has been initiated by Southern Illinois University as part of R. Buckminster Fuller's World Design Science Decade 1965-75. The proposal by Fuller is concerned with the development of a large-scale, computerized, world display and game facility. It is to be part of the University's Centennial celebrations. The World Game, as it is called, will be the first attempt to set up a physical facility directed towards the solution of world problems on a scale now only available for war games. Though similar to the World Game, and extremely ad-

vanced technically, the large military command and control installations are limited by their purpose. The World Game facility would treat a whole world map complex as a dynamic display surface capable of showing a comprehensive inventory of the planet's raw and organized resources, together with the history and patterns of world people's movements and needs. The facility will be used for educational and research purposes.

These are clearly only the first steps. In time it will be possible to simulate the complete network of relations between national and international organizations. The value and effect of planned changes will then be assessed, clashes anticipated to some extent, and communication improved. More important is that this would provide a realistic model for the concept of the interdependence of organizations, businesses and governments which represent individuals throughout the world.


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