How to frame Business Management internal assessment research question?

1Why are XXX Cyber café’s profits declining?     General and very broad question. It should be specific.
2What measures can XYZ bakery take to revitalize its profitability?Instead of what measures, candidate should have analysed the particular measure or method.
3What measures can XXX Residential School take to arrest increasing teacher turnover to improve the academic performance of the students?Good question. Should have improved by analyzing a particular measure. This question is very specific about   the problem and expected result.
4What type of diversification of operations at XXX  Xerox would arrest its declining profitsCandidate should have analysed the particular method of diversification
5What measures can XXX Tailors take to improve its cash flow?Candidate should have analysed the particular measure to improve the cash flow.
6Should XXX Gems stop outsourcing of making of gold ornaments in order to increase its profit marginGood question
7How can XXX revitalize profitability through innovations and changes in its product portfolio?Good question
8How can the employees of XXX be motivated in order to increase levels of customer satisfaction, sales and revitalize profitabilityGood question could have been framed better.
1How can XXX Company improve its labour productivity?Question is not specific
2How can XXX Company improve industrial relations?Question is not specific
3How can XXX Company reduce labour problems?Question is not specific
4How can XXX Company reduce labour problems to increase its profitability?Better, could have been improved
5Would solution to labour problems at XXX Company increase its profitability?Instead of saying solution, candidate should have mentioned specific solution to the labour problem.
6Would non-monetary motivation methods reduce industrial relations problems to improve labour productivity at XXX Company?Good question.

Let us take this question as an example:

Would non-monetary motivation methods reduce industrial relations problems to improve labour productivity at XXX Company?

Good research question should have three important parts:

MethodProblemAim or expected result
Non- monetary motivationWorsening industrial relationsImprove labour productivity

Internal Assessment —overview

The internal assessment for SL is a written commentary that answers a question based on a problem or issue of a single business organization. The problem or issue must be related to the business and management SL syllabus. While the problem or issue must be chosen in relation to a specific organization, it may affect a number of organizations or the industry as a whole. However, the focus of the commentary is the individual organization.

The written commentary enables SL students to demonstrate the application of business and management tools, techniques and theories to a real business issue or problem. Students must select a real and contemporary issue or problem, not a fictional one, facing a single business organization.

  • The title of the written commentary must be phrased in the form of a question.
  • The commentary can be based on primary and/or secondary sources.
  • The commentary requires analysis and evaluation of the issue or problem, and the student must form judgments, and incorporate them into the commentary in light of the question posed in the title.
  • The maximum number of words for the written commentary is 1,500 words.
  • Students must provide a declaration of authenticity on the coversheet of the written commentary.

Although there is no mandatory format for the written commentary, the following is a suggested format that might help students organize their work.

  • Title (in the form of a question)
  • Introduction (including a description of methodology)
  • Findings (based on the supporting documents)
  • Analysis of the findings
  • Conclusion(s)
  • Bibliography and references
  • Appendices: supporting documents

Written commentary—details

TitleThe title question must be clear and focused, allowing the student to answer it by carrying out a limited amount of research, supported by chosen documents. If sufficient sources are not available for the research to be carried out, the question should be replaced. The following are examples of suitable questions. Is including a line for male customers a profitable decision for company X? Is an increase in wages an effective way to increase productivity and motivation in company Y? Is company Z’s decision to increase productive capacity by building a new plant a sound financial decision?
IntroA brief and focused introduction should explain the purpose of the commentary and the methodology used to investigate the problem or issue. Business tools, techniques and theory should be included to present the commentary in appropriate business format and to support the analysis and the judgments with relevant business concepts and theory.
FindingsIn order to write the commentary the student should refer to secondary sources and may collect primary sources depending on the issue or problem investigated. These sources provide a vast and varied amount of information for the student to analyse and answer the question. Three to five of these sources have to be selected and presented as supporting documents for the commentary. They should be included in the appendices, with the relevant sections highlighted by the student. Although it is mandatory to include three to five sources as supporting documents, this does not mean that the investigation should be limited to these documents. Any sources consulted by the student but not chosen as supporting documents should be referenced in the body of the commentary and included in the bibliography.
Analysis of the findingsThe above findings have to be analysed in the light of the title question, taking into account business theory and using, as far as possible, business tools and techniques. This analysis could be included as a separate section, or it could be included together with the findings (findings and analysis). The different supporting documents should be analysed in such a manner that their relevance to the question is clearly established. The analysis should also show how the supporting documents relate to each other.
ConclusionThe title question must be answered, based on the analysis of the findings and, in particular, on the analysis of the supporting documents. The conclusion should not introduce ideas or judgments that have not been discussed in previous sections of the commentary. It is good practice to include those aspects of the question that have not been fully answered in the commentary or that might need further analysis or investigation to be judged more effectively.
Bibliography  and referencesThe commentary should contain correctly presented references and a bibliography. Only books and web pages actually consulted should be included. The access dates to the web pages consulted should be specified. If the student refers to sources of any type, these should be referenced through the use of footnotes.
Appendices – supporting documentsThe appendices should only include the three to five supporting documents, chosen by the students as the structuring documents for the commentary. The chosen documents have to be included in their complete form, although relevant parts to the investigation have to be clearly highlighted.

Suitable Titles for Research Purposes

  • Should company ABC merge with Company XYZ?
  • How should Airline A react to the threat of low cost carriers such as Airline B?
  • What price should Game Company A charge for its new game system?
  • Should Company ABC become a PLC?
  • Should ABC look into franchising to expand its business?
  • How can Company ABC use primary research methods to launch its new product?
  • How can Company ABC improve its liquidity position?
  • How can local business A sustain a strong market position with multinational companies dominating the market?
  • What are the reasons behind Company A’s demise in the local market and how could it have been prevented?
  • If possible, keep your questions short.
  • Look forwards, not backwards
  • Look for conclusions and recommendations
  • Create a focus, rather than a general approach

We have covered accounting (business expansion and change).  Marketing and organizational behaviour are next – yet these two topics may provide more interesting questions.  Read business magazines and newspapers for possible ideas.

See me (individually) with a list of possible questions and we can short-list your options.

How to Structure a Business and Management Internal Assessment

Title page (with your Research Question)
Contents page
Executive summary
Introduction (approx. 200 words)
Research Question
Procedure or Method (approx. 200 words)
Main Findings and results (approx. 200 words) –simply a summary of your findings
Analysis and discussion (approx. 1000 words) This is where you J.A.M. (just like in the IB Business Extended Essay)
Conclusions and recommendations (approx. 400 words)
Bibliography and references

How to Get Full Marks On Your Business Internal Assessment

I have found that the biggest challenge my students are having, in terms of scoring the top marks in the Business IA, is related to their use of analytical tools.

In general, you have a Research Question and you’re trying to arrive at your answer. A very common mistake is that students do a lot of analysis, but they don’t connect it properly to the Research Question (RQ) or to their Answer (Ans).

I have wracked my brain to make this more straightforward and I’ve come up with the following diagram, which you can follow to make your IA analysis a more straightforward process. If you follow it, it should raise your performance in several aspects of the IA Business rubric.

By this point, you have chosen an appropriate RQ. if you aren’t sure about that, I recommend reading this article first (and follow the ‘4 tests’ it advises to check your RQ).  So now you know that you need to do a few things. You need to get an answer to your RQ, you need to do a lot of analysis and you need to do a lot of research. Where most people go wrong is connecting these things properly. For example, many students Answers (their Findings) are not clearly related to their analysis at all. There is no clear link between their analysis and their eventual Answer. By following the model I’m suggesting you won’t make this mistake.

There are also three aspects to an analysis

1Connect your analytical method (i.e. PEST, Decision Tree) to your RQ. Make it clear HOW this method is needed if you are to answer your question. Again some types of analysis will be more suitable for your specific RQ. You cannot simply do any old type of analysis. It is important that you do the right type of analysis, the analysis that answers your question.

2Perform the analysis correctly (and carefully), showing you know the purpose of it. Be very careful to do a correct job of using the model. Fill in all of the boxes (i.e. of your SWOT), or carefully do your NPV calculations, explaining your work as you go.

3Finally, after you have completed each method, comment on your findings in a way that relates directly to your Answer. Do briefly after each analysis (i.e. after your IRR calculation and after your Boston Matrix). You don’t need to tell us everything that you’ve just shown us. Just summarize the main findings which relate to your Answer. The idea is that, by the time we get to your actual final conclusion, your conclusion is actually obvious to the reader.

This makes for a good report, which would be more useful to your manager because you’ve shown the manager, step-by-step 1) Why this analysis is necessary, 2) What the analysis shows, and 3) How that analysis relates to what the Business should actually do. You have therefore made it easy to understand and more convincing.

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