Skip to content

What MIT’s Beer Game Teaches About Panic Hoarding

Corelex Shinei Toilet Paper Factory As Japan Announces Its Revised GDP Figures
Photographer: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg

For the new executive MBA class at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, the exercise in systems theory that Professor John Sterman put them through on day one of their 20-month program was probably never more relevant to what’s happening in the real world.

The Beer Game simulates supply and demand across the industry — the brewery, distributor, wholesaler and retailer. Students are divided into teams to play one of these four roles, with the goal of keeping inventories streamlined and costs as low as possible. (It was originally called the Refrigerator Game, legend has it, but that didn’t sell as well with college students.)