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Breaking Bad Performance through Strategic Alliance

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No doubt like many of you, the bulk of this week (and last) has been spent attempting to get on top of my workload and capitalise upon the opportunity the Easter break has presented. Having said that, work and revision for the June papers is only optimised when effectively combined with an appropriate amount of rest and relaxation. For me that has mainly consisted of over-dosing on the hit TV series Breaking Bad.

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Meet Britain’s Best Business Leader - Harriet Green

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Students attending our BUSS4 exam coaching workshops will know that I'm a big fan of Harriet Green, the CEO who has done so much to lead the turnaround of Thomas Cook. In fact, I'd almost go as far as to say that Harriet Green is my favourite CEO. Except, of course, that there is Howard Schultz of Starbucks who has long held that position in my mind!

Nevertheless I highly recommend that business students take some time to learn more about the leadership and management style of Harriet Green who was awarded the Leader of the Year accolade at the 2013 National Business Awards.

Here are two articles which I think are pretty accessible to students wanting to undertake this research.

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China’s focus on Innovation, not Imitation

Monday, April 07, 2014

A great BBC article and video highlighting why China’s domestic mobile phone companies are now the greatest threat to Apple and Samsung’s success.

The extracts below will add weight to any argument that foreign mobile companies will struggle to succeed in the Chinese market.

  • Shenzhen, once a fishing village is now referred to as China’s Silicon Valley. It is home to Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE (three of the five largest mobile handset companies in the world) and a further 6000 handset manufacturers.
  • China produces more than half of the 2.5 billion phones sold around the world annually.
  • China now spends around $300bn (£182bn) a year on R&D, compared with a US spend of $450bn, and it is estimated to surpass Europe by 2018 and the US by 2022.

In the interview with Shi Lirong, Global President of ZTE (now the most innovative company in the world, filing 50,000 international patents last year), he lays out his three-pronged strategy of customer-focused innovation, recruitment of the best staff from around the world and the development of business partnerships.

Very impressive stuff!

Starbucks – Technology to order your Coffee… but Never to Serve it

Following on from Jim's blog updating us on Starbucks strategy, here is another great 4 minute CNN video interview with Howard Schultz in which he talks about his app that allows customers to order on-line. The factors leading to this are the rise in internet shopping and subsequent reduction in footfall in shopping centres, but will online-ordering reduce the impact of this? Schultz talks about the need for all retail businesses to completely transform the way they do business, and as always, Starbucks seem to be ahead of the curve.

He explains the benefit of technology and data to help him better meet the needs of the customers (and ultimately shareholders), but is adamant that robots will never serve the coffee as this will detract from the customer experience instead of enhance it.

Another gem of a video that covers strategic planning, innovation, technology and customer service.

Starbucks Update from Howard Schultz

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Starbucks - always one of the best BUSS4 research examples - continues to be a source of inspiration for business teachers and students. I picked up on this excellent Q&A interview between CEO Howard Schultz and Bloomberg Businessweek which is packed with useful research insights. 

Here is the article - well worth a read.

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Technological Change and the Watchmakers

The global watch business is estimated to be worth around $22bn per year. It is still a big market, but the market leaders face some significant competitive threats from substitute products.

Can mechanical watchmakers compete effectively with the big smartphone brands? They need to find a way to do this soon unless their products are to be consigned to targeting a niche segment of older, wealthy customers.

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Google Glass, Geeks and Loons – Overcoming Barriers for Product and Market Development

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Two very interesting stories regarding Google’s intentions of world domination (in a nice way) via innovation, product and market development.

Firstly, in an effort to “de-dorkify” the Google-Glass and appeal to a wider audience, Google have struck a deal with Luxottica (the makers of Ray-Bans and Oakley sunglasses) to design the wearable device. The deal looks promising and Luxottica’s share price increased 4% after the deal. At the same time, Google founder Sergey Brin has been denigrating mobile phones saying that they are socially isolating, with “people walking around hunched up, looking down, rubbing a featureless piece of glass”. This is a great example of how Google are trying to push what they hope is their next rising star by challenging accepted norms about how we currently interact.

Secondly, to “connect the two-thirds of the world's population which does not have affordable net connections”, Google has launched Project Loons, which consists of floating balloons laden with 3G equipment into the skies over lesser developed countries. The driving force behind this is of course altruistic, with an ancillary benefit being that billions more people will use Google services. Moved by this act of philanthropy, Facebook intend to do the same, but using solar-powered drones instead!

Perfect stimulus for discussions for Ansoff’s Matrix, Boston Matrix, Innovation, Competition, Overcoming barriers, CSR and Strategic planning.

Retrenchment and the Rope-a-dope

Monday, March 31, 2014

A topic that is yet to be examined in the BUSS4 paper and one of the sections in the fantastic BUSS4 Revision Workshops is Retrenchment.

This 9 minute clip show the highlights of Ali and Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle, and demonstrates the risks of over expansion, the necessity of retrenchment and the benefits of focus. It serves as a potential introduction to Retrenchment strategy and can be followed by research on Thomas Cook’s Harriot Green or Royal Mail’s Moya Green (two ladies who demonstrate Ali-esque strategic thinking). In the video, Muhammad Ali shows:

Aggressive Attack

Ali believed that he could beat the market leader with an aggressive attack in the first 2 round. He was wrong! It led only to him expending lots of energy (money) and aggrevating his more powerful opponent.

Retrenchment (the rope-a-dope)

Ali went against the rope for the subsequent 5 rounds. Whilst this was a risky strategy, it allowed him to refocus and conserve vital energy (whilst Foreman went on the attack and expended most of his energy/funds). Despite being on the defensive, Ali still used his marketing/mind games to get the crowd on side and frustrate Foreman.

Focus and Success

In the 8th round, having regained his stregth and knowing that his opponent had lost his, Ali invested in a short, focused but powerful attack that floored Foreman and allowed him to achieve his objective of Champion of the world/market leader!

Macroeconomic moves in China

Friday, March 28, 2014

I am cross-posting this from the Economics blog as I think it should be useful for BUSS4 students; in a rather low key report on the BBC website this week, I found the shock news that China had a trade deficit of $23bn in February. This is alongside the HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) which focuses on small privately owned businesses, and which gave a reading of 48.1 for March, compared to 48.5 in February - with any figure below 50 indicating a contraction in manufacturing activity. And today there is a forecast of the ‘official’ PMI, which looks at the larger state-owned factories; although this is slightly over the ‘expansion’ measure of 50, it is only predicted to come in at 50.3 - and is subject to a 0.3 downwards correction to allow for seasonal patterns, according to Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland.


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Alibaba - Ali you need know!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A combination of excellent news articles from last week have helped my students and I to fully understand the size and scope of Alibaba. Former teacher (and self-confessed technophobe) Jack Ma’s online company has experienced exponential growth and led to fear and envy from some of China’s (and the world’s) biggest companies. However, in his modesty he has described himself as “a blind man riding on a blind tiger”, giving him instant legend-status in our eyes!

The attached presentation has videos, hyperlinks and infographics that allow students to focus on the various elements that have led to Alibaba’s potential $150bn valuation. Each slide focuses on a different section from the BUSS4 specification thus giving information on leadership, strategy, competition, diversification and the economic (electronic) environment.

Hope it helps.

Does the UK Steel Industry Have a Future?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The FT produce some superb videos that are ideal for use in the Business & Economics classroom - and this new one on the UK steel industry is yet another ideal teaching resource. 

While global steel output has accelerated over the past four decades, the UK has been left behind. Tanya Powley, the FT's manufacturing correspondent, visits Celsa's plant in Cardiff to find out if UK steelmakers still have a future.

There is so much in the four minutes of the video. A good idea is to ask students to consider, as they watch, what is the most significant point made about the UK steel industry. 

They might mention:

The substantial reduction in scale of the industry over recent decades (from 200K workers to around 20k)

The significant overcapacity in the global steel industry

The lack of competitiveness of UK steel plants despite heavy investment (capital intensive!)

The changing relationship between employers and employees (the steel industry at its height had a pretty awful record of industrial relations)

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BUSS4 Exam Coaching & Revision Workshops to Prepare for 18 June 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

We're all ready to go with our BUSS4 Exam Coaching Workshops for June 2014. It already looks like we already have several sold-out venues for intensive revision days dedicated to supporting students as the get ready for the BUSS4 exam on 18 June 2014. However, there are still places available in some locations - please check our online store for latest availability

The outline content of the five BUSS4 exam coaching sessions is shown further below together with some screenshots from the workshop booklet. Students attending the workshop also get a copy of my latest BUSS4 Revision Guide!

How to book places (subject to availability)

Email Janet Cahill with your confirmed numbers , or

Order online (including private individual students / groups), or

Download and submit the booking form

Please note that we DO accept private bookings from individual students / student groups - although these must be ordered and paid for before the places are allocated. No places may be bought on the day - advanced bookings only!

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Change of strategy at Morrisons

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How can it be that the announcement from Morrisons today that they have made a £176m pre-tax loss for the year to February 2, has caused Tesco's share value to fall to its lowest level in almost a decade? 

There are a couple of articles here which give students a good opportunity to analyse the internal and external influences which are forcing Morrisons to change their strategy, and the effect of that change on their competitors. As this article in the Daily Telegraph explains, the problem for Tesco, and for Sainsbury as well, is in the change of strategy that Chief Executive Dalton Philips announced in order to try to turn this around. Morrisons intend to cut their costs aggressively, by £1bn, and to use those savings to cut their prices.

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China – has the “domino effect” begun?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Speaking at his annual address to parliament, premier Li Keqiang said “we are at a critical juncture where our path upwards is very steep… deep-seated problems are surfacing; painful structural adjustments need to be made”.

This comes at a time when there are reports of a potential sub-prime debt crisis in the “shadow banking” sector (worth between $604bn - $3.7 trillion, depending on the source).

Also, according to the Ministry of Human Resources, the number of job openings fell, with city jobs in Q4 falling 13.7% from the preceding quarter.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the first domestic corporate bond default happened last week. Energy company Shanghai Chaori Solar failed on a £9m interest payment. The state has previously bailed out Chaori and other such businesses, but chose not to this time, generating much speculation from analysts.

Many say it was a necessary move from the government to install a better risk culture, tackle China’s credit problems and starting with the “painful adjustments” necessary to decelerate growth.

However, Bank of America Merrill Lynch stated “We doubt that the financial system in China will experience a liquidity crunch immediately because of this default, but we think the chain reaction will probably start.”

This was echoed by Philip Li of China’s International Credit Rating, calling it “a domino effect”, and coupled with Robert Peston’s recent BBC article (and other sources below), should help students construct a strong case that the risks of operating in China now outweigh the rewards.

The Sunday Times - China faces it's Shadow Banks

Business Week - How Chaori will deal with the default

Forbes - Trouble for China?

The Telegraph - The value of the shadow banks

BBC - Is the shadow banking sector due to fall?

BBC - Robert Peston's How China fooled the world

Even St Anthony can’t change the culture at Barclays

Monday, March 10, 2014

In 2012 Anthony Jenkins (nicknamed “Saint Anthony”) succeeded Bob Diamond and promised to clean up Barclays and eradicate the worst excesses of the banking industry. Speaking to those who received huge bonuses for unscrupulous behaviour, he said “my message is simple: Barclays is not the place for you. The rules have changed. You won’t feel comfortable at Barclays and, to be frank, we won’t feel comfortable with you as colleagues”.

Despite this, profit dropping 32% to £5.2bn, and making 3,700 jobs cuts last year:

  • Jenkin’s himself pocketed just under £5m in shares
  • Staff paid over £1m increased from 428 to 481.
  • The bonus pool increased 10% to 2.4b

The justification for this? Many senior traders have left, or threatened to do so, and to keep hold of the top earners, he had to offer top pay. Had he not, the investment wing of Barclays would have plunged into a “death spiral”, with staff and high-value customers going elsewhere.

This is part of the bigger issue regarding European Commission’s rule to reduce banking bonuses, how George Osborne is fighting the decision and why, it would seem, he really didn’t need to as bosses of RBS (81% owned by tax payers) and HSBC also side-stepped the rule by giving large “fixed pay allowances” in the form of shares.

This story always provides great impetus for emotive debate on BUSS4 topics such as government intervention, culture, pay and leadership.

China as the woman of your dreams… but is the feeling mutual?

Friday, March 07, 2014

“students never really cognitively understand something until they can create a personal metaphor or model”

To help students understand how a business can overcome the many barriers to success in China, we used the metaphor of trying to gain the affections of a beautiful, foreign (but very high-maintenance) woman… called China! The analogy worked surprisingly well and we compiled the pros and cons on the attached PowerPoint.

To summarise, everybody loves China because…

  • She’s beautiful
  • She’s popular
  • She’s rich (14% of global GDP in 2010)
  • She has over 1 billion “things” to offer you

However, the problems are that…

  • She’s very picky and discerning (48% of foreign businesses have failed within 2 years - WeberShandwick)
  • She likes designer goods (“will purchase 20% of world’s luxury goods by 2015” - McKinsey)
  • You don’t speak her language or know what she wants
  • There are a lot of locals who do (35% of businesses feel comp from local is the 2nd biggest threat - The Economist )
  • Her parents are strict and probably won’t like you (Hostile government - 32% see the Chinese government as the 3rd biggest threat)
  • Her parents seem to prefer the locals (Protectionist approach – local businesses nurtured with fiscal and financial help)

So what do you do to succeed? The answer seems simple; learn why so many have failed, make sure you’re better than the rest, learn the language, culture and habits, give her what she wants and keep the parents happy!

This then led to application to businesses such as JLR, LinkedIn, KFC and Starbucks and what they did to build strong long-term relationships with the beautiful China.

Government (or governing body) Intervention: Man City, Benefits Streets & Universities

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The attached PowerPoint (In_the_news_last_week_Gov_Int.ppt) links three current stories from sport, media and education and asks “should governing bodies intervene or should the invisible hand of free markets be left unchecked?”. In each case, students can discuss the merits and shortcomings of regulation in the respective industries, and explore the reasons for intervention in the first place.

The lesson works as a nice starting point and leads naturally to further research on Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.

Hope it helps!

What’s gone wrong at Mothercare?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

This article about Mothercare asks whether it can be reborn, following a series of errors and decisions which have gone wrong. So it makes a very good case study from which students can identify decisions which were made, and turned out to be mistakes, and also actions which were not taken, and probably should have been. Their sales have been falling for years, they have restructured and reduced staffing, they issued a profits warning in January which led to £112mn being knocked off their share value, and now their Chief Executive has resigned - and yet they have a well-respected brand and the nature of their market means that their products are in constant demand.

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Can WhatsApp help Facebook get into China? No! But LinkedIn seems to have found a way.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My students were particularly interested in Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for the ridiculously high $19billion. We used the previous blog, then delved deeper and found a few great related articles; one explaining why it was a good price ($42 dollars for each of the 450m customers) but bad strategy and the other predicting that WhatsApp will not help them succeed in China. To summarise the two:

  • WhatsApp is pro-privacy and data-free
  • WhatsApp CEO Jan Kuom is sticking to his “ad-ban”
  • WeChat – China’s domestic messenger service already has 300m customers and better functionality
  • WeChat helps China’s economy and is subject to Chinese law (meaning “they” can keep tabs on the content).
  • Chinese government banned Facebook, linked them with an act of terrorism and state media claimed that “80 percent of China’s net users felt Facebook should be punished”
  • The government don’t want Facebook siphoning money and talent away from China’s domestic social media industry, most notably Weibo (China’s Twitter), whose profits have just jumped from $2.4m to $44.5m!

Segueing seamlessly to a social networking firm that seems to have secured a way into China; LinkedIn is trialing it’s Chinese language site via joint ventures with Sequoia China, China Broadband Capital and the aforementioned Weibo and WeChat!

Chief Executive Jeff Weiner said the deal has raised “difficult questions” for him, and has been forced to make various concessions in order to adhere to the Chinese Government’s censorship requirements, but believes that “LinkedIn's absence in China would deny Chinese professionals a means to connect with others on our global platform,"

Overall, these combined articles give students relevant ammunition for each of the research “bullets” as it covers success, failure, methods of operation and ethical implications of entering the Chinese market.

It would appear that social network firms need to network with Chinese social network firms if they want to become social network firms that operate in China. Simple really.



Why buy a business with $20mil revenue for $19 BILLION?!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

After Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, I thought this made an interesting exam question. I've compiled a PowerPoint (Facebook_Whats_app.ppt) with graphs and hyper-links and asked students to research the facts behind the purchase. The main reasons seem to be:

  • WhatsApp exponential growth was becoming a threat
  • Facebook’s “determination to be the 'next' Facebook”!
  • WhatsApp's comparative success in Europe
  • Messaging companies becoming the social networks of choice for the young
  • Google tried and failed

Whilst Facebook's share price fell and then recovered after the purchase, analyst Ian Maude stated "expensively buying every competitor does not feel like a long term strategy". Are Facebook, like Apple, losing their competitive edge?

Hope it helps.

Customer service in the rail industry

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Did you know that most train operating companies will refund 50% of your ticket for a delay of 30 minutes or more, and will double that if the delay is for an hour or longer? And that, if you are travelling by tube, Transport for London offers refunds if your journey is delayed by 15 minutes or more (although you won’t get a refund if the delay is caused by a security alert, “third party action” such as a strike or bad weather)? Most probably you didn’t, as a survey by the Office of Rail Regulation has found that more than 75% of rail passengers know “not very much” or “nothing at all” about what they are entitled to when services are disrupted.

The report also found that 74% of passengers felt that train companies do “not very much” or “nothing at all” to proactively provide information about compensation when there are delays. As Simon Gompertz found in this video report, there are plenty of ways in which the train operating companies could make the information available, whether through instructions on the back of the tickets and announcements on trains to use of technology through their websites or apps.

This poor standard of information for customers is now to be improved. The ORR will now oversee the development of a code of practice on provision of ticket retail information, which will be in place by the end of 2014 and will provide clarity on what information passengers can expect from their train companies, including information on the different types of fares, restriction, and key terms and conditions, such as compensation and refund rights.

The government are also making compliance with these requirements part of their new franchising arrangements, to add to the regulation of the industry.

In the meantime, if you have had a journey delayed recently and want to claim compensation, here’s some guidance on what you might be entitled to.

How China Fooled the World

Friday, February 21, 2014

We all know that the statistics about China's growth are awe-inspiring: a new power station every week, a new skyscraper every five days, and 30 new airports and 26,000 miles of motorways have been built in China in the last five years. Chinese outbound tourists are set to spend over £310bn on their travels this year - and that alone is a huge injection into the economies of other countries. A report last month showed Chinese investment in London real estate has risen more than 1,500 percent since 2010, increasing from 54 million pounds to more than 1 billion pounds at the end of the third quarter of 2013.

While Britain has been in the grip of the worst recession in a generation, China's economic miracle has surged forward.

Without this extraordinary growth, the depth of the slump in the developed economies would have been even worse; China's low cost output and their foreign exchange reserves have helped to keep the global economy growing at a time when any stimulus has been most welcome.

But, as Robert Peston explains in 'How China Fooled the World', the vast majority of this expansion has been built on credit from the 'shadow banking' system. There are huge developments of housing which have been built and bought up by investors at inflating prices, but which lie empty. As a result, the Chinese economy now has huge debts and there are doubts as to whether much of the money can ever be paid back. This sounds horribly reminscent of the bubble which built up immediately before the credit crunch in 2007-8 - but on an unimaginably bigger scale. What will happen to the rest of the global economy, if China is no longer there to support it?

There is only another 7 days to watch this excellent programme on i-player, and it is really worth devoting an hour to at the end of half term - could be very useful for several of the bullet points for June's BUSS4, particularly the second  - the risks and rewards involved in trading with or operating in China - and last - how business strategy might be affected by developments in China.

Robert Peston's blog also has a supporting article. - which you can find here.

Some BUSS4 Section B Essay Questions to Ponder and Plan

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Here are some practice BUSS4 Section B Essay Questions which could be used for revision / essay planning practice.

I've taken account of what has been asked in Section B up to now and also the current Section A research theme on China.

Here they are. If I come up with any more, I'll add them to this blog!

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Sun Tzu’s The Art of Business

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Whilst quoting Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is normally reserved for market traders and Gordon-Gekko-types, I’ve used the attached PowerPoint (Sun_Tzu_The_Art_of_Business.ppt) as a nice introduction to Strategic Planning (and, quite appropriately, expansion into China) with A2 students, and Business Planning with AS (a little tweaking may have to take place for the different year groups).

I’ve picked out a few choice quotes from the 2500 year old text and asked students to write down the business implications (or advice it gives) to businesses. Finally, students need to plot all of the factors a manager/general must take into account to ensure a strategy of success.

It can take as little or as long as required, but is an interesting way of getting students to understand that strategic planning is the key to success in war, competition, business and life.

Hope it helps.

AQA A2 Business (BUSS4) - Exam Topic Tracker

Friday, February 07, 2014

There have been eight sittings of the BUSS4 exam now, based on the first five research briefings (Emerging Markets, UK Recession, Corporate Social Responsibility, Takeovers and Mergers, Corporate Culture). 

Here is our AQA BUSS4 Exam Paper Topic Tracker which allows colleagues to see how the BUSS4 topics have been examined so far. 

Download AQA GCE Business BUSS4 Topic Tracker

We also recommend that BUSS4 students make use of the following resources:

Ultimate Guide to BUSS4 Essay Writing

BUSS4 Revision Guide

Our BUSS4 blog on China

Our Scoop.it news boards for BUSS4 Section B and BUSS4 China

BUSS4 - The Section B Essay Questions So Far

We've had quite a few BUSS4 exam papers now and it is always interesting looking back over the choice of essay titles for Section B to get a feel for the style and focus of what is on offer! It is also interesting to note which topics have been covered by the essay options in Section B! 

Over the lifetime of the specification, you would hope that all the major topics in BUSS4 would feature in some way. After the June 2013 paper, there are still three core topics that have not yet been the focus of at least one of the three Section B essays, namely:

  • Retrenchment (touched on briefly in the Section A research theme in 2010 on strategies in a recession)
  • Takeovers and mergers (Section A research theme for 2012)
  • European business (the forgotten child of BUSS4?)
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Apple v Samsung Research task

Monday, February 03, 2014

Does the combination of Apple’s falling sharing price and market share, their perceived lack of innovation post-Jobs and Samsung’s cross-licensing deal with Google spell trouble for Apple?

Attached is a 10 slide PowerPoint (Apple_V_Samsung_Research.ppt ) with infographics, hyperlinks, videos and questions that can be used to help students research the two tech giants.

As with the “Will Google rule the world” post, the lesson covers most of the following BUSS4 topics:

  • Mission statements & corporate objectives
  • Globalisation and emerging markets
  • Technological change
  • Leadership
  • Culture

Hope it helps!

BUSS4 - the tutor2u Ten for 2014

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Each year we attempt to pick a manageable selection of businesses which offer the potential for AQA BUSS4 students to combine some Section A (China) and Section B research.

Here are our suggestions for 10 firms to follow for BUSS4 students wanting to deepen their understanding of real businesses as they prepare for the two essay questions this summer. In a couple cases we’ve grouped firms together, so the total number of businesses is actually more than 10!

The tutor2u 10 is chosen entirely subjectively, based on the following criteria:

Each entrant should ideally have;

- Accessible media coverage

- Good mix of written, audio & visual research materials

- An international/global dimension

- Potential for “compare and contrast”

- Rich sources of relevant evidence for AQA BUSS4 research theme for 2014 (China)

- Reasonable expectation of examiner familiarity

The list is shown below, with a brief comment on the reason for selection.

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Will Google rule the Earth? An interactive case study on growth and change management

Friday, January 31, 2014

Google’s $3.2 billion purchase of Nest and current shopping spree into all things futuristic has made for an excellent BUSS4 case study. Attached is a 10 slide PowerPoint (Google_mergers_and_acquisitions.pptx) with videos, articles, hyper links and questions that can either be used as a homework task to start students on the road of research, a lesson in which students work independently and focus on the sections they find most interesting, or a catalyst for discussion about the similarities of Google, 1984 and Brave New World. 

Whilst it focuses on acquisitions, by the end of the lesson all students were able to analyse Google in relation to the following BUSS4 topics:

  • Mission statements, corporate aims and strategy
  • Globalisation
  • Government intervention (or Google’s intervention with the government)
  • CSR
  • Growth
  • Leadership
  • Culture
  • Managing change

Most amusing is the Daily Mash's vision of a world run by Google... as if we have a choice!

BUSS4 China’s Development - Past Present and Future

Here are some notes from a talk given by Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK at the Marshall Society economics conference in Cambridge in January 2014.

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BUSS4 The impact of legislation relating to business, and the government’s Red Tape Challenge

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Yesterday, David Cameron told the Federation of Small Business conference that more than 3,000 rules affecting business are to be scrapped or amended, saving more than £850m a year. BUSS4 students need '...a broad understanding of the scope and impact of legislation relating to business', and will be well aware that the legislation adds to business costs. Cameron is proud to say that his government would be the first in modern history to end a term in office with less regulation on the statute books than when it came into power.

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Google Buys Smoke Detectors, Thermostats…and Some of Apple’s Innovative Culture

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The announcement of Google's takeover of smart home-appliance maker Nest for $3.2bn is potentially hugely significant for Google.

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Samsung: Boston Matrix, Culture and Dividend Yield

Saturday, January 18, 2014

These two pieces of video evidence on South Korean multinational giant Samsung are pure business studies gold - particularly for students preparing their evidence for AQA BUSS4.

Samsung is a highly diversified multinational that is the most significant firm in the South Korean economy.  It has achieved a strong record of improved profitability, quarter after quarter, as demand for its product portfolio has grown, particularly mobile devices. However, in January 2014 it announced that it expected to suffer a fall in profits, It expects to make an operating profit of 8.3 trillion won ($7.8bn; £4.8bn) for the last quarter of 2013, down 18% from the previous three months.

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Innocent’s Chain of Good Analysis

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How does a young man buying a drink in England help a young man in Uganda achieve his dream?

Innocent Smoothies' new advertising campaign explains the connection, and in doing so, it helped my class to understand how to fully develop a point, this led to deafening applause from the whole class and a subsequent call of "Oh Captain! My Captain" whilst most students climbed onto their desks! An ancillary benefit was that they could justify which was better, Innocent's Corporate Social Responsibility or Innocent's Marketing Campaign.

BUSS4 Section A Briefing 2014 China - CPD Briefing Days: Two Dates Left in Feb 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Section A Research Theme Briefings: Two Extra Days Added

We have added two extra overflow days for colleagues wanting resource-packed support for the AQA BUSS4 Research Theme on China (June 2014). These are in London on February 5th and Manchester on February 6th.

Our BUSS4 Section A CPD Briefing Days follow the popular and successful approach adopted in recent years, to include:

  • Teaching resources designed to introduce and develop the research theme, focusing on relevant examples and effective sources of student research materials
  • Activities designed to develop essay writing technique
  • Suggestions for ways in which the 2014 research theme can be integrated into the teaching of the remaining Section B topics
  • Other ways in which a linear approach can be taken, integrating some elements of BUSS3 with BUSS4 Research Theme and Section B

The dates and locations for our BUSS4 Section A China Briefings are:

LONDON (A) Monday 30 September 2013 SOLD OUT

LONDON (B) Tuesday 1 October 2013 SOLD OUT

BIRMINGHAM Wednesday 2 October 2013 SOLD OUT

MANCHESTER Thursday 3 October 2013 SOLD OUT

LEEDS Friday 4 October 2013 SOLD OUT

NEWCASTLE Monday 7 October 2013 SOLD OUT

LONDON (C) Wednesday 5 February 2014

MANCHESTER (B) Thursday 6 February 2014

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Ansoff Meets Harry Potter

Friday, January 03, 2014

You read the books; you watched the movies; you've visited the theme park. Next up - the Harry Potter Musical?

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Business Ethics & CSR - GSK Promises to be Good

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The global pharmaceutical industry is under threat, like never before, for the way that it markets its products.

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Bring Him Home - UK Manufacturing Turns to Onshoring

Monday, November 25, 2013

A fascinating survey has been released by the UK's Manufacturing Advisory Service ("MAS"). It reports that a growing number of manufacturing SMEs are bringing production back to the UK from overseas. This is a process called "onshoring" which, of course, is the reverse process to "offshoring".

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Marvin Gaye Introduces Macro Economics

Monday, November 18, 2013

A musical starter that introduces most elements of economic environment... in the funkiest way possible!

Marvin Gaye's Inner City Blues Video

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Business Studies Exam Technique Coaching & Revision Workshops in 2014

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The dates and locations for our popular programme of exam technique coaching & revision workshops to prepare AQA GCE Business Studies & AQA?Edexcel GCSE Business students for exams in May & June 2014. The details are listed below together with important information about changes in way that bookings are processed.

Please note that for summer 2014 we are taking confirmed bookings only. Places are allocated on a strictly first-confirmed basis. Once each screen capacity is filled, the event is full and no further bookings can be accepted. Our overall capacity is lower than in previous years and we fully expect each workshop to be fully booked before the Christmas break - so please contact us early to ensure that your students can attend!

A printable booking form can now be downloaded for:

GCSE Business Studies (AQA & Edexcel) - Workshops in May 2014

AQA BUSS1 and BUSS3 Workshops in January 2014

AQA BUSS2 and BUSS4 Workshops in March, April & May 2014

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BUSS4 - Key Features of China’s Economy

Monday, November 04, 2013

This revision presentation provides an overview of some of the key features of China's economy. It looks at China's economic growth; the impact of urbanisation and investment in infrastructure; China's record on poverty and the creation and use of China's substantial foreign currency reserves. It also looks at rising wage costs in China and the need for China to rebalance its economy reducing reliance on investment and increasing the role of consumption in economic activity.

A fully editable and printable version of this presentation is included in our AQA BUSS4 2014 Toolkit on China which is being published on 8 November 2013.

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BUSS4 China - Osborne and Johnson in China

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

With the high-profile visits of George Osborne and Boris Johnson to China this week, there is a glut of resources available on the BBC website which could be very valuable to BUSS4 research.

Here are links to just a selection:

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Set the Scene for a Top-Scoring Essay with an Essay Introduction

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Examiners Report for the June 2013 sitting of AQA BUSS4 makes a very interesting comment.

It suggests that students who write a suitable introduction to each of their two essays can contribute to a better-performing and, therefore, higher-scoring essay.

This makes perfect sense and it follows from something that we emphasis on our exam coaching workshops for BUSS4. Good BUSS4 essays start with a plan. Good essays know what they are trying to argue.

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Can Retrenchment Really Save Blackberry?

Monday, September 23, 2013

It looks to me like the last throw of the dice. A final attempt to cut costs, stem rising losses and rationlise a business so that a buyer can be found - even in its current distressed state. But will the announcement of 4,500 job losses be enough to save Blackberry?

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Emerging Markets - If You Want Growth - Go Where The Growth Is…

Monday, September 16, 2013

If they want to grow, multinationals based in developed economies have to make emerging markets their number 1 strategic priority.

That's the view of the CEO of Tupperware - Rick Goings.

"Customers that want growth simply must be where the growth is" said Rick Goings in his contribution to a major survey about multinational strategy in emerging markets.

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Playing to Win in Emerging Markets - Local Competitors Pose the Biggest Threat to Success

A new study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has concluded that emerging markets are more important than ever, and they make up a large share of many multinational companies’ revenues and growth.

However, BCG suggests that, despite the importance of emerging markets, multinationals have not mastered key markets such as China, India and Brazil. The reason? Multinationals are “not playing to win”.

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Aims and Objectives for A2 - Suggested Lessons

Friday, September 06, 2013

As the new term welcome and induction activities draw to an end this week, our focus turns to 'chalk and talk'. I've just completed my first topic of teaching A2 (on the AQA spec) and the mix of research and discussion led to a group creation of the first essay for Upper Sixth.

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Nokia: Elop Raises the White Flag and Sells to Microsoft

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

It's all over for Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and his 32,000 employees in the core of Nokia - their mobile phones (handset) business. After several years of struggling to turn the business around in the face of intensive competition from Apple, Samsung, Google, Huawei and others, Elop has decided the best option is to sell the business to Microsoft.

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AQA A Level Business: Holistic Teaching Schedules for AS and A2

Friday, August 30, 2013

The end of January modules gives us as teachers an opportunity to teach many topics within the AS and A2 specs in a holistic manner.

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Leadership at Apple - Tim Cook’s Quiet Cultural Revolution

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I highly recommend teachers and students reading this new profile of Apple CEO Tim Cook. It is packed with insights into the leadership challenges faced by Cook, his leadership style and the link with organisational culture change at Apple.

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