The Figural Space of the Business Simulacrum: Examining an Educative Change Management Simulation

Esben Langager Olsen*, Johan Simonsen Abildgaard

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this paper, we present an examination of a game-based business simulation. We approach the simulation as a provocative technique and analyse it as a business simulacrum. Business simulacra are referential artifacts that partake in the coordination of business and economy. In the study, we shed light on how business simulacra affect actors’ subjectivity. We suggest that Lyotard’s writing provides hitherto underappreciated inspiration for addressing this issue. Lyotard offers a theorization and a vocabulary which centers the simulacrum’s performativity in the space between the perceived and the perceiver. The analysis shows how the simulation designers have assembled the game by sourcing established business simulacra and translating them into easy-to-discern figures of business reality. The designers couple this translated business simulacrum with ludic elements and reflexivity techniques, aimed at making the learning subjects realize and articulate change management problems. With the sensitives provided by Lyotard, the paper discusses simulacra’s potentials to provoke business reality in events that entangle business subjects’ subconscious with figures of business reality sourced from popular business discourse. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of the analysis for current debates on artificiality in business education, and business simulacra’s performativity more generally.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)634-651
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Simulacrum
  • Performativity
  • Figure
  • Business simulation
  • Leadership development

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