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The Beer Game: Understanding the Complexities of Supply Chain

The Beer Game: Understanding the Complexities of Supply Chain

The Beer Game, a simulation game developed by MIT, simplifies the complex and challenging field of supply chain management by providing a unique and interactive way to learn. Decades of students, professionals, and businesses have used the game to grasp supply chain dynamics and improve processes.

As a player of the Beer Game, you assume the roles of a retailer, wholesaler, distributor, or factory in a beer distribution supply chain. Your task involves managing inventory and ordering based on customer demand, striving to minimize costs and meet demand.

A part of the Beer Game Board



Beer Game, a supply chain management game

The Beer Game highlights the bullwhip effect, which causes increased variability in orders as one moves up the supply chain. This increased variability leads to higher costs, decreased customer satisfaction, and supply chain inefficiencies. Through playing the game, you witness the bullwhip effect and understand your actions’ impact on the rest of the supply chain.

Inventory management is another crucial aspect of the Beer Game. You balance the need for enough inventory to meet demand with the cost of holding too much. This helps you understand the trade-off between inventory levels and costs and the significance of accurate demand forecasts. The Beer Game serves as a valuable tool for anyone seeking to comprehend supply chain management. It offers a unique and interactive way to learn about the bullwhip effect, inventory management, and other crucial concepts in a fun and engaging manner. Whether you are a student, professional, or business owner, the Beer Game deepens your understanding of supply chain management.



What is the Beer Game about?

The Beer Game is a simulation game designed to teach players about the complexities of supply chain management. Participants take on the role of participants in a four-stage supply chain and work to meet the demand for beer while balancing inventory and avoiding excess costs.

How many people can play the Beer Game?

The game can be played with a minimum of four players, with each player taking on the role of one of the four stages of the supply chain. Larger groups can also play, with multiple players taking on the same role.

What can the game teach us?

The Beer Game highlights the challenges and inefficiencies that can arise from miscommunication and poor decision-making in a supply chain. It also demonstrates how small actions at one stage of the supply chain can have significant impacts on other stages.

Who is the game meant for?

The game is suitable for individuals of all backgrounds, from students to business professionals, and anyone interested in understanding the complexities of supply chain management.

How can I facilitate?

Facilitating the Beer Game is easy and can be done in a classroom or meeting setting. The System Dynamics Society offers a complete game set for purchase, including all necessary materials and instructions for conducting the simulation. If you need a facilitator, you can fill out this form.

How can I purchase the game?

You can purchase the game from the System Dynamics Society here and we ship worldwide.

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Collaborative and Competing Supply Chain Scenario Planning

Presenter: Professor Nitin R. Joglekar

Title: Collaborative and Competing Supply Chain Scenario Planning

Abstract:  Scenario planning is an approach used to prepare for just-in-case futures.  Disruptions such as BREXIT and the pandemic have shortened the planning horizons, heightened the need for leveraging data, and brought in digital collaboration/ distanced work as three key elements of just-in-case supply chain configuration planning (Joglekar and Phadnis, SMR 2020; Phadnis and Joglekar, POM 2021). In addition to such collaborative planning, we also see specters of completing policy regimen, such as deglobalization trends, affecting supply chain planning scenarios (Srai, Tsolakis and Joglekar, 2020). We draw upon evidence from pandemics and widespread farmer protests in India to conduct system dynamics studies of underlying planning challenges. We then identify potential research opportunities — empirical, behavioral, and analytical – that are associated with emergent field of just-in-case supply chain scenario planning.


  1. Joglekar, N., & S. Phadnis (2020) Accelerating Supply Chain Scenario Planning (Attached)
  2. Phadnis, S., & Joglekar, N. (2021). Configuring Supply Chain Dyads for Regulatory Disruptions: A Behavioral Study of Scenarios. Production and Operations Management forthcoming
  3. Srai, J. S., Tsolakis, N., & Joglekar, N. (2020). Interplay between Competing Policy Regimen in Supply Networks.


Professor Nitin Joglekar is on faculty at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. He has been a department editor for industry studies and public policy at the Production & Operations Management Journal (POM).  He is currently serving as an expert on advanced manufacturing and digital supply chains for Global Futures Council at the World Economic Forum. He is also serving as a co-editor for POM’s upgoing special issue on pandemics. Home Page: