Paper published on role-play simulation for business students

The paper introduces a novel supply chain role‐play activity designed by Assistant Professor of Management Todd Inouye, and a colleague from Niagara University, for students to improve their ethical awareness and pricing negotiation decisions.

Todd Inouye
Todd Inouye

A study on the efficacy of exposing students to a coffee supply chain simulation, designed and conducted by Todd Inouye, an assistant professor of management at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, was published July 14, 2020, in the Journal of Innovative Education.

The article and class activity was presented at both the Academy of International Business Conference as a finalist for the Consortium for Undergraduate International Business Education (CUIBE) Award for Best Paper on International Business Education and again at the Decision Sciences Institute (DSI) annual conference as a finalist for the Instructional Innovation Award.

James Kling, who specializes in supply chain management at Niagara University, approached Inouye one day with a problem: current supply chain simulations were dated and boring, and failed to provide a high standard of experiential learning. Inouye and Kling then developed the new simulation from the ground up. It has been run in multiple master of business administration programs and undergraduate classes at Niagara University. In fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters at the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics, the simulation was part of the course on International Management (MGT 333).

The simulation gives students experience in different parts of the coffee supply chain in a pricing negotiation that also folds in the ethical dilemmas businesses face as they push to lower costs. Inouye and Kling have found that students who complete the activity significantly improve their ethical awareness and scope of responsibility while feeling more confident in negotiating.

“From Farm to Cup: A Coffee Supply Chain Negotiation Role-Play,” by Todd M. Inouye and James A. Kling, is now published in  the Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, a publication of the Decision Sciences Institute.


This paper introduces a novel supply chain role‐play activity designed to improve ethical awareness and pricing negotiation decisions in business capstone courses. Participants negotiate prices between five levels of an international coffee supply chain: Farmers, Processors, Importers, Roasters, and Retailers/Cafés. Using results from 141 participants, data analysis supports the conclusion that this role‐play significantly increases self‐reported mastery of supply chain management, business ethics, and negotiations. In this manuscript, we also introduce the concept of bounded ethicality and how it is incorporated into the role‐play scenario debrief phase. Self‐reported scores reflecting ethical awareness significantly increase after participation in the role‐play activity. While statistically significant results are discussed, we also generalize about the advantages of this type of experiential education. Methodology and details of the role‐play itself are shared.


Via the COBE Blog.