Well, sort of.
Last week, I ran a session on Game Theory with my undergraduate Engineering Students. The course is not wholly delivered in Team Based Learning style, however I had 3 hours (on a Friday afternoon!) to play with, and so I decided to eschew traditional lecturing and provide some pre learning materials (including a brilliant online game on the evolution of trust), then move into the Readiness Assurance Protocol followed by a couple of short application exercises.
I am always pleasantly surprised by the results of the RAT, with team scores outperforming individual scores by an average of around 20%, a pretty reliable result across TBL.
- Average iRAT = 53%
- Average tRAT = 72%
- Average BEST iRAT in team = 66%
- 11 of 18 teams has a tRAT that outperformed the best iRAT on their team; only 2 teams underperformed it.
In at least one case, the team together found a correct answer that none of them had got correct individually.
The first short exercise – a hypothetical standoff between 2 nuclear super powers – revealed the difference between rational theory and human behaviour. This is one of those exercises where it really helps to have a large class (mine was over 100, with 18 teams). Fortunately, in real life, peace is more likely than theory would predict!
The second was the #brexit question – with 4 options – No Deal, Boris Deal, Corbyn (or customs union) deal, and cancel brexit. The point was for students to use game theory to predict an outcome, rather than select what they want to happen. The students rose to the challenge really well, and in the debrief we were able to have quite a detailed discussion on the choice of appropriate players (UK and EU? Labour and Tory? Government and parliament?) with each having access to a range of strategic choices, which have meaningful impact on the outcome. I love the “4S” design of application exercises – with a complex problem but a single choice, simultaneously revealed and easily compared between teams. The students are now equipped to apply game theory to a business problem of their choosing.
The answer to #brexit? Well, although this wasn’t really the point of the exercise, the majority of the groups ended up at No Deal, although there were a number of spirited defences of other outcomes.
I directed interested students to an IEA paper of game theory and brexit (spoiler alert: the answer is ‘it depends’) and there is plenty more to be found. This is not just an academic exercise, apparently Dominic Cummings is a game theory aficionado. But since this blog is not about politics, there I will leave it.