The horrific Bangladesh factory disaster has highlighted a number of business issues and proved a stark reminder of the global effects our purchasing decisions may or may not have on people halfway around the world. Tom White has already put up a blog with some initial thoughts; I thought I’d pose some further questions and examine some of the issues raised in that post.
A great starting point would be to listen to the ever-reliable Business Daily, from the BBC World Service. Their programme In the Balance invites guests to debate a topical business issue, and this week, the Rana Plaza disaster was under discussion.
One of the first questions to ask is to examine the extent to which firms which are supplied by such factories are responsible. There were more immediate causes, of course, such as the owner’s actions and the culpability of local regulation and enforcement (or lack of). But this is not the first time there have been such disasters, nor are the poor conditions in such factories surprising. So is it right that chains such as Primark continue to use such suppliers? Isn’t it their fault, with their demands for low prices and increased flexibility to meet the needs of the fast fashion market? Do they have a responsibility to ensure fair and safe working practices in factories they don’t own and which they are merely customers of? A lot of people would argue that yes, they do. But isn’t that the same as arguing we as consumers should audit the supply chains of the shops which we buy from? Primark is as much a customer as we are.
Perhaps we’re all guilty of picking up on ideas or stories that support a particular view that you feel is right. Ever since I began reading about doubts over the benefits of outsourcing and offshoring I’ve seen more stories on the same theme. There was Bob, who had outsourced his own IT job to China. Then came a special report in The Economist that asked some searching and detailed questions too (you can read more here).
And now the definitive proof - the "Nation's Noodle" is coming home. Golden Wonder's pot noodles are currently made in China and shipped 10,000 miles to the UK, but the 191-year-old British company that makes the product has cancelled its Chinese contracts in favour of making its own noodles in Leeds.read more...»
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V appointed Frans van Houten as Chief Executive in April 2011. The new CEO has reviewed the group's operations, and has taken decisions to reshape the firm.
My students know that I love the radio. Many a spare half an hour can be whiled away with a podcast of The Bottom Line (which returns on Thursday/Saturday this week), or More or Less, or Peter Day’s World of Business. And the great thing about this form of learning is that it can overlap with other tasks – there’s no opportunity cost! Listen to a business/economics podcast whilst at the gym, going for a run, doing the washing-up, whatever…
But whilst Radio 4 is well-scouted territory, but one students might not be so familiar with is NPR’s Planet Money. This show, from America’s public radio, is quite close in style to R4’s More or Less with a more of a business focus. 2 fifteen minute shows are podcasted a week.
This edition is a great place to start.
The central thrust of their argument is that the advantages of offshoring work (outsourcing overseas) are falling, fast. The logic of returning work to the developed economies looks fairly convincing.read more...»
This is a really important development for business students who need to appreciate the dynamics of the global economy to understand. The OECD has forecast that, within four years, China will overtake the USA to become the largest economy in the world. The value of China's GDP in 2013 alone is forecast by the OECD to be bigger than all the Eurozone economies put together. China has arrived - and it has hugely significant implications for business.read more...»
As the October 10th deadline approaches, the board of BAE face significant difficulties to
complete the proposed merger with EADS.
The BAE EADS merger proposal ought to help pupils attempt develop analytical skills using PESTLE, SWOT or stakeholder models. Can you use these management tools to develop your analysis and evaluation and go beyond application and understanding?
This concise case study looks at the growth strategy currently being pursued by one of Europe's largest brewers, Heineken International. It deals with many strategic issues relevant to the A2 syllabus and can be a useful case study or discussion topic.
Read on about a couple of new shows ideal for business studentsread more...»
Fantastic lesson resource here from the BBC Magazine on the global reach (and history) of Coca-Cola. The recent decision to allow the sale of Coca-Cola in Burma means that there are just two countries in the world where it is not permitted to buy the iconic global beverage. Can you guess which two countries these are?
As the article explains, the Coca-Cola brand has been closely aligned to geo-political events over its 126 year history, largely as a result of its heritage in the USA.
The scale of the new shirt sponsorshop deal agreed between Manchester United and General Motors Chevrolet brand is staggering and a great example of the benefits a brand can enjoy when it becomes truly global.read more...»
News has been released this afternoon that Walgreen, a US company that operates 7,890 pharmacies across the United States, is buying a 45% stake in Boots, which has more than 3,300 health and beauty retail stores in the UK and 11 countries around the world, a strong internet retail presence, a manufacturing facility in Nottingham, as well as a wholesale business which supplies pharmacies and doctors in 21 countries. The deal, which is being reported as a MERGER rather than a takeover, has been under discussion for 18 months, although it still has to be agreed by regulators. Walgreen also have the option to take the remaining 55% of the shares in the next three years.read more...»
A simply fascinating piece of analysis by the respected Asymco website here which breaks down the costs of each individual element of what goes into an iPhone. Has there ever been a better example of added value to show students - though they may be somewhat surprised by how much contribution is made on each iPhone shipped!read more...»
A good article here which analyses the strategic challenges facing Sony and its new CEO Kazou Hirai.
As we’ve reported recently on the Blog, Sony is now undertaking a significant retrenchment strategy, including the loss of over 10,000 jobs (or 6 per cent of its global workforce) over the next 12 months. That sounds a lot, although it ought to be put in some context - Nokia has made over 30,000 job losses since Stephen Elop began his retrenchment strategy!read more...»
Our BUSS4 blog has a series of streamed revision presentations which students may find helpful in supporting their studies ahead of the exam. They are listed below:read more...»
I was reading today that BMW i8 engines are to be built in Birmingham. Why would the German-based car maker want to produce engines in the UK? What’s brought them here?
I often find this is a great induction session for students who are new to Business Studies, or those progressing from AS to A2 and are looking to apply their knowledge and understanding.read more...»
In the 1980s and 1990s, Ford embarked on a series of takeovers Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, all of which were sold off to meet the firm’s liabilities. It also had built up a substantial stake in the Japanese Mazda company, holding almost 1/3 of the share capital, making a successful bid by rival multinational car makers less likely.
Today’s business news included an announcement that Mazda was forming an alliance with Alfa Romeo develop a new two-seater rear-wheel-drive sports car.read more...»
The topic of emerging markets is hugely important for BUSS4 students. The economic growth and large populations of the ‘BRIC’ nations (amongst others) has meant many businesses, including some of the tutor2u twelve: have been targeting these countries as part of their strategies for growth. Examples include Starbucks who plan to have 1,500 coffee shops in China by 2015, and Apple as their Shanghai store sells more iPhones per square foot than any other Apple store in the world.read more...»
Cable and Wireless Worldwide has 20,500km of fibre-optic cables in the UK, owning this would mean that Vodafone doesn’t have develop a network from scratch, estimated at £5bn. Vodafone like other mobile operators needs additional capacity to cope with the increased use of smartphones - downloads of music, video, photos etc.read more...»
At our A2 Business revision workshops in March we predicted that Sony would quickly become an essential research case study for students in 2012 and perhaps beyond, as we anticipated the strategic review being carried out by Hirai Kazou as he took over as CEO of Sony from Sir Howard Stringer. Events over recent days have supported that view. Sony’s plight - and proposed turnaround strategy - is packed full with fantastic business strategy materials. Perfect for comparing and contrasting with the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google & HTC.
Hirai’s announcement has been well covered in all the business media, particularly the online business television channels. Here is a selection of clips which help explain the strategy and also provide some examples of experts analysing and evaluating the likely success of the turnaround:
Update: BBC news, May 2012: Sony shares tumble to 31-year low amid record lossesread more...»
This revision presentation provides an overview of the topic of emerging markets. It highlights some examples of how businesses have pursued a growth strategy in emerging markets and also how developed economies have seen investment coming in the opposite direction. A brief overview of the methods and benefits/drawbacks of international expansion is also provided.read more...»
Chinese companies have historically been characterised as low-cost, low-quality producers of manufactured goods. However, there is growing evidence of a new breed of Chinese company emerging that is able to compete on the world stage.read more...»
A great article here for students researching the competitive environment in the consumer electronics industry. Students should certainly be familiar with the strategies of Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Sony and others. But have they heard of Huawei? It looks like they might soon, if Huawei is successful in its objective of grabbing a significant share of the smartphone and tablet markets.read more...»
You’ll recognise some of these brands: Crowne Plaza; Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo. They are all owned by InterContinental Hotels Group and you’ll find them in just about every major city in the world, from Chicago to Munich; from Mumbai to Sydney. IHG is a global hotels group with more guest rooms than any other hotel group in the world – over 645,000 rooms in more than 4,400 hotels in over 100 countries. But have you heard of Hualuxe? You might do soon…read more...»
A quick heads up for business students and teachers who have no reason to follow the Economics blog - Geoff Riley has posted an item about VW’s growth and profits. There is a one-minute video which would be an excellent lesson starter, with hints about the acquisitions and competitive strategy which have led to a 15% growth in sales and doubling of profits, and their focus on emerging markets - plenty here which could lead into an investigation of the company for BUSS4 students.
The Tata takeover of Jaguar Land Rover (“JLR”) in 2008 is one of our five “must research” deals for the AQA BUSS4 research theme in 2012. And this recent article provides students with some compelling evidence about how successful the takeover has been for Tata, the private Indian conglomerate that is now the UK’s largest manufacturer. The Telegraph reports that JLR made record pre-tax profits of £559m in the final three months of 2011 as demand for its premium cars soared in Asia. This follows on from JLR’s record profits of £1.1bn in 2010.read more...»
The first time that any reporters have been allowed inside the iPad factory in China - and what an insight! This clip has it all for superb business studies lesson starter. Technology in production of course; but much more interesting is the issue of people management. Thought-provoking…read more...»
A new takeover has been announced this morning and its one that many students researching takeovers and mergers might want to use a topical case study. For many, the products involved will be close to their hearts…read more...»
Last Wednesday, Vestas the leading supplier of wind turbines posted a substantial operating loss of €166m on its operations. This has led to the resignation of the Chief Financial Officer Henrik Norremark, and the Chairman Bent Carlsen and two other main board directors. Norremark was about to be promoted to Chief Operating Officer, in control of the firm’s manufacturing operations.read more...»
I think the song goes something like that….Starbucks has been very popular in this blog lately with a number of posts across different topics. It seems to be all good news at the moment as they pursue a number of different strategies for achieving growth. And I used this video clip to get my students to identify three out of the four main ways of growing a business.read more...»
We know that the BUSS4 is a big fan of the Apple and Steve Jobs - and with good reason. As our BUSS4 Topic Tracker indicates, a previous essay question (Jan 2010) used the example of Steve Jobs to ask students to evaluate how easy it is for a Chief Executive to change a struggling business into a more successful one.
Steve Jobs shares much in common with another well-known entrepreneur and CEO - Howard Schultz (Starbucks). Both men founded, left and then returned to lead a turnaround of their respective businesses. Both have taken on the challenge of taking a business idea through rapid growth and then also manage a global brand in a much more uncertain external environment.
Might Howard Schultz feature in a future AQA BUSS4 essay choice? Its certainly possible and this article from Ernst & Young ought to be essential reading for any A2 business student who wants to build their understanding of Schultz and his leadership style and business strategy for Starbucks.read more...»
As of 1 January 2012 there are 17,244 Starbucks outlets around the world. Not one of them is operated as a franchise - until now. Starbucks has announced that it is looking to the franchise model as part of its organic growth strategy, with the first franchise store likely to be opened in London later in 2012.read more...»
Most A2 Business students have their sights firmly set on BUSS3 this week, which is very much as it should be. However, next week their attention will turn to the wider world of BUSS4. In planning for that, it looks as if the three-part series of reports about China that Newsnight will be running this week would be very useful, and worth recording or at least picking up on i-player.read more...»
This makes an ideal example for students considering the challenges of international location in operations management for which they must consider global
markets, cost reduction and avoidance of trade barriers. Here is my plan for the case study and questions which could be set on it:
Could Adidas make a profit from selling branded trainers for $1? Certainly not in any of their developed markets – but since 2008 they have been working on a market development (Ansoff!) strategy which would give them access to the vast market in rural India with a social enterprise venture at a price that local people can afford. The goal of the project, the firm says, is not to maximise profits but to “tackle social issues” by creating jobs.read more...»
Tesco may have admitted defeat and pulled out of Japan after 8 years but they have found an innovative way to build their market share in South Korea. A fantastic example of listening to customers, ensuring they can buy what they want at a time and place convenient to them. In this case, by scanning virtual items using smartphones while using the subway.
Pubs and clubs that want to show live football, cricket or rugby on Sky TV have to be extremely confident that it will raise their profits - the monthly cost of subscription runs to over £500 per month. For many, showing live sport is a way to keep customers coming to the pub rather than drinking at home, so may be the only strategy available to stay in business.You can easily see the benefit of finding a cheaper source of satellite broadcasts if possible, and this is the background to the well-publicised case in which Karen Murphy, landlady of a pub in Portsmouth, was taken to court by Sky and the Premier League for using a cheaper Greek decoder to bypass controls over match screening. The European Court of Justice has ruled that national laws which prohibit the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards are contrary to the freedom to provide services.read more...»
This is a great BBC News Clip on what happens to our electronic waste when we no longer need it. WASTE MANAGEMENT appears in many syllabuses nowadays and waste disposal is becoming a more regulated and expensive aspect of a business’s operations. This video clip shows what happens when the costs rise and businesses try to find cheaper ways to dispose of that waste. Here is another BBC clip from Panoramaread more...»
The impact of the turbocharged emerging economies continues to grow and I was certainly surprised by the answer to this question. Having spent a long time thinking and reading about outsourcing and offshoring it’s easy to forget how the process runs in two directions. It’s not just that British firms have massive overseas investments – over the last few years foreign multinationals, many from the developing world, have been building up their bases here.read more...»
Even the might of Tesco cannot overcome the cultural differences between the UK market and the Japanese market for groceries. They moved into the Japanese market in 2003, as part of their objective of global growth, but have now decided that they cannot grow big enough there to generate the economies of scale that they need to make the business profitable - and with the change of focus in their objectives away from growth and towards greater profitability, this no longer fits with their strategy.
The reasons for the difficulty of gaining the growth that they need seem to be due to big differences in the way that people do their grocery shopping in Japan. Gavin Rothwell, research manager at groceries analyst IGD, is quoted as saying “The retail market is fragmented and there are many strong regional players, often family-owned. Convenience stores dominate, particularly in the city centres, and a culture of ‘immediacy’ supports large numbers of vending machines/kiosks.”. Tescos are not the only major western retailer to have failed to break these habits, as Carrefour and Boots have also tried to break into the market but pulled out, and Wal-Mart are reportedly struggling. So this story emphasises the risks that businesses take when they try to use the market development sector of Ansoff’s matrix to sell a well-established product into a new and unfamiliar market - and suggests that some markets are more impervious to globalisation than others,
You guessed it. The rise of the emerging markets continues apace, with the US car market now in 2nd place behind China.read more...»
For the second time in just a few months, The Economist gives several column inches to debating the merits of outsourcing: the idea that there are big benefits to be had from passing work, once completed by a firm, to a subcontractor who takes on that role.read more...»
I am cross-posting this item from the Economics blog because it should be of great value to A2 Business students as well as those studying Economics.
The first episode of a 3-part series, Made in Britain, was shown on BBC 2 last night, and was a really useful hour for business students. It examined how and why Britain has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs over the last two or three decades in the low-value part of the sector, with some film of outsourcing shot in China as well as plenty of archive material from this country, but argued that the move to high-end, low scale manufacturing has become Britain’s area of comparative advantage in industrial manufacturing. This included Evan being taken for a test drive in the new McLaren sports car, which was clearly an amazing experience - watch the clip to see his reaction! And this surely emphasises the Economic Importance of Manufacturing to the UK economy - see this link to Geoff’s blog on this topic! Sadly this episode is not to be broadcast again, but is available on i-player for another 21 days and is thoroughly worth watching. I will certainly be setting the recording machine for the next two programmes, on Mondays at 9.00 on BBC2 - episode 2 is to focus on how innovation can help keep Britain ahead in the global economy.read more...»
Students who can point to some overriding trends which help shape strategic direction and choices are much more likely to write interesting, persuasive and evaluative essays. This new report by consultants Ernst & Young is a pinch of gold dust for such students, as it examines in a reasonably accessible way six broad, long-term developments which shape business around the globe.read more...»
Preparation for BUSS4 includes some study of emerging markets, and students could take a break from textbooks to play with this graphic from the BBC. It allows you to compare countries in terms of wealth, health, life expectancy, education and energy consumption, between 1970 and 2006.There is an explanation of each of the sets of data and where it came from, and you can select two factors and up to 10 countries to compare.
For example you can examine questions like “As Asia’s wealth increases, how much longer are people living?” or “Is increasing wealth leading to better education?” in order to get a picture of how development and markets in the Asian countries compare with the UK and USA. Worth a look to get a feel for the potential for UK businesses to invest in expansion into these developing markets, and some of the limitations for them there.
We’ve lived through an extraordinary period in world economic history. Sustained economic growth outside the areas once seen as the ‘rich world’ - primarily Western Europe, the US and Japan – is reordering the global balance of economic power.
The ‘emerging markets’ is a term used by commentators to group together some of these awakening giants. You may have heard of the BRIC economies - Brazil, Russia, India and China - a label that serves as a handy acronym to remind you of some of the key players. But there are plenty more. What does this mean for business?read more...»
According to The Guardian, in what is the latest sign that the luxury world order is shifting east, Prada (which has operated out of Europe’s fashion capital of Milan for nearly a century) is looking to sell shares in Hong Kong. It is trying to raise as much as £1.6bn from selling just a 16.5% stake in the company. The Italian fashion brand drew gasps, as this valuation makes the business worth some £9bn.read more...»
There’s been loads of good business material in the first couple of shows in this three part series, so that it’s recommended viewing if you have some time over half term.read more...»
Could ‘Made in the UK’ start making a comeback? According to The Economist, American multinational manufacturers are moving back to home, as building factories offshore becomes less and less attractive. Might the same thing happen in the UK?read more...»