AQA BUSS4 Research Theme for 2015 - Manufacturing in the UK

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Exam Coaching & Revision Workshops for AQA AS/A2 Business in 2015

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The dates and locations for our programme of intensive exam coaching & revision days for AQA BUSS1, BUSS2, BUSS3 and BUSS3 in Spring 2015 are now available. 

To confirm your places on these highly popular days, please use these booking forms or contact Janet Cahill in the tutor2u office (email janet@tutor2u.net)

Booking form for BUSS1 & BUSS3 workshops

Booking form for BUSS2 & BUSS4 workshops (+ BUSS1/BUSS2 combined workshops)

To find out more about what goes on at these exam coaching & revision days, take a look at this introductory video!

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Manufacturing: Does the UK Steel Industry Have a Future?

Thursday, October 02, 2014

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

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BUSS4 UK manufacturing

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

As BUSS4 students start on their research into UK manufacturing, one piece of data that they should keep an eye on is the CIPS Purchasing Managers Index. This is produced monthly by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply by surveying managers responsible for purchasing materials in manufacturing industries, and so it gives an indication of the level of activity. A reading above 50 (shown by the red line on the graph above) shows growth in activity, below 50 shows a decline.

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AQA BUSS4 Section B Essays Volume 1

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

During the run-up to the previous sitting of BUSS4 (18 June 2014) we received numerous requests to provide a resource that illustrates how BUSS4 Section B essay titles can be answered effectively. So here it is! A collection of 20 Section B Essays covering a wide range of potential topics for the next BUSS4 exam in June 2015.

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AQA A2 Business BUSS4 - Section A Research Theme 2015

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The research theme for AQA BUSS4 Section A has now been published. For June 2015 the theme is Manufacturing in the UK.

Download the AQA Research Theme here

tutor2u is the leading provider of teacher and student support for BUSS4. Below we have outlined how you can fast-track your support for students taking BUSS4 in June 2015 with tutor2u’s unrivaled teacher and student resources.

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AQA BUSS4 Research Theme Toolkit for June 2015

Friday, August 08, 2014

Our popular research theme toolkit for the June 2015 BUSS4 exam can now be pre-ordered here

The research theme for the exam on 17 June 2015 will be published by AQA at the start of September 2014 and our team of experienced BUSS4 teachers and examiners will set to work immediately. We'll aim to get the full toolkit completed by the end of October. The aim, as always, is to provide high quality, focused research support for the selected theme that will save you substantial time and enable your students to maximise the effectiveness of their time preparing for BUSS4.

The BUSS4 research theme toolkit can also be ordered using this printable order form.

We are once again running a programme of CPD days that provide further support to teaching colleagues wanting to kick-start their BUSS4 lesson planning and delivery. In 2014 these courses, which I will once again run with Graham Prior) were attended by over 400 colleagues and sold-out very early.  If you would like to join us for what is always an enjoyable and useful course, please book your places as soon as possible.  Due to the popularity of the BUSS4 course, we are only accepting confirmed bookings. 

Details of the BUSS4 Section A Briefings can be found here.

Thinking further ahead, the full programme of our BUSS4 Intensive Exam Coaching & Revision Workshops is now confirmed and we've already had a few advanced bookings from schools wanting to secure some of the places before and after Easter. All the details of the BUSS4 workshops here together with all our other revision workshops for BUSS1, BUSS2 and BUSS3.

Ikea in China - The Classic Long-term Success Story Built on Localisation

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I suddenly realised that, whilst we've featured Ikea prominently in our exam coaching workshops for a couple of years, we haven't linked to the wealth of resources that are out there to help tell & explain Ikea's strategy!

Here is a selection of the best - certainly contains everything you need to gather relevant evidence for why Ikea is such a timeless case study.

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BUSS4 Essay Technique - Signposting Analysis and Application

A good structure is so important when it comes to writing high-scoring paragraphs in an essay. One thought I had last night was whether it might be possible to encourage the examiner with his/her marking by making it clear what each part of a paragraph is trying to do! Let's call it "signposting" for want of a better word.

I had a go at this below with a sample paragraph point where I was trying to achieve good analysis (GAn) and good application (GAp) in just one paragraph point.

See what you think and whether you believe it might help with the writing and/or structuring of a paragraph point. I've highlighted the attempted "signposting" in bold.

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AQA BUSS4 Revision Webinar - Section B Essays

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Here is a recording of tonight's BUSS4 Section B webinar.

The materials used during the session can be downloaded here

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AQA BUSS4 Revision Webinar - BUSS4 China Lines of Analysis

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Here is a recording of the BUSS4 revision webinar on China which played live to 430 students this evening.

You can download the slides (pdf) of the materials from here

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BUSS4 Exam Prep. Making Connections to Achieve 5 Levels of Analysis

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

In preparation for June 18th, my class and I did the follow PowerPoint activity which focuses on planning and analysis.

The premise is simple; the BUSS4 questions invariably ask students to analyse the causal relationship between 2 concepts, such as “does strong leadership lead to a successful business?” or “Is targeting emerging markets the best way to improve profit?”. Students therefore have to fill in the blanks and make the connections between these two concepts to achieve good analysis. More importantly, in doing so it forces students to answer the questions set without digression, deviation or departure from the subject.

The first example is given to get the ball rolling. There are 8 questions and some blank templates below to add additional questions. In terms of differentiation (if you like that sort of thing), they can obviously be made easier or more difficult by taking away or adding some “blanks”, and a natural extension strategy would be for students to then add a paragraph of application to support the answer.

I sincerely hope it helps and wish you all the very best for the upcoming exams.

BUSS4 China - Selling TV to the Chinese consumers

Friday, May 30, 2014

There was a great radio programme on today, For all the TV in China. As Chinese consumers become TV owners, there is a vast market for entertainment shows, and as this is one of the UK's biggest exports (see this recent report from the UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport which sets out how creative industries are worth a whopping £8million per hour to the UK economy), there are plenty of UK production companies who are keen to sell their products to China.

It turns out that the Chinese can't get enought of shows like Take Me Out, and there are plenty of ways of adapting their formats so that they reflect Chinese tastes and cultural sensitivities. The programme is 28 minutes of BUSS4 gold dust, with a good sprinkling of cultural awareness scattered over it as well.

China no longer the land of opportunity?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

With just under 3 weeks until the BUSS4 exam, this article in the Wall Street Journal is absolutely perfect for any student who wants to add up-to-date information to their argument about the dangers and difficulties of operating in China.

To sum up the article as briefly as possible, The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China spoke to over 500 European businesses based in China and found that many now view China as less attractive due to the following plethora of reasons:

  • Rising labour costs
  • Slowing economic growth
  • Falling profits
  • Regulatory hurdles
  • Lack of confidence in economic reform
  • Pollution
  • Difficulties attracting and retaining staff

Pick one and develop the hell out of it!

Tesco in China “20% of something is better than 100% of nothing”

My students and I invariably use Tesco as our shining example of failure in China (and failure after the departure of a long-term leader, and failure due to over-diversification, and failure due to neglect of their core market, and failure due to complacency over smaller competitors). However, Tesco today finalised the deal with China Resource Enterprise which gives them 20% of the largest food retailer in China. This BBC article could be used as a nice evaluation point to show that in the long term, Tesco could still be winners in China.

Tesco have kept a healthy foothold in the world’s largest food market, and due to China’s efforts to rebalance the economy towards consumption, the market is due to grow by 50% over the next three years.

More interestingly, Tesco appear to have learnt from their error and won’t try to “go it alone” in India. They have announced a joint venture with JLR’s parent company Tata Group to initially open 12 stores. From what we know of Tata (and the Indian market’s rapid growth forecast), it seems possible that Tesco may still recover from their recent slump.

Examples of Compare and Contrast for BUSS4 Section B Topics

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Here are some “compare and contrast examples” that you might use as the basis for evidence to support the analysis developed in paragraph points in a BUSS4 Section B essay.

You'll need to dig just a little deeper into these examples to gain sufficient detail for your answers (though not too deep - beware storytelling!).

As you finalise your research, try to find some more pairs of examples that can be used to compare and contrast. And also consider how the evidence you gather can be used to help support the analysis you develop at the start of each paragraph point.

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The surprising effects of Barclays retrenchment and Dixons merger

Friday, May 16, 2014

2 perfectly contrasting and counter-intuitive articles that show how “the markets” can favour retrenchment over growth.

Barclays announced it was slashing 19,000 jobs and reducing the size of its Investment bank. The immediate result? Share price surged 8%.

Carphone Warehouse announce a £3.8bn merger with Dixons that will “create a seamless experience” for their customers. The result? Dixons share price closed 10% down and Carphone Warehouse’s dropped by 8%.

By comparing and contrasting the 2 strategies (and the reasons for the resultant change in share price) students can show good analysis of the benefits of retrenchment.

Anthony Jenkins, in an interview in the Sunday Times, said it best by echoing/paraphrasing/plagiarising Howard Schultz after he closed almost 1000 Starbucks stores in the US - “Growth is not a strategy, it’s the by-product of good strategy”.

I hope the revision is going well!

Is China’s slowdown good news?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

There is plenty of concern about the slowdown in China's growth, and what this might mean for businesses looking at expansion via China. To what extent should those businesses be worried about slower growth? The issues here are very relevant to the external environment in China, and could be useful for bullet points 1 and 6:

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Revision Quiz - Retrenchment

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The strategy of retrenchment is covered in this revision quiz

Launch Revision Quiz - Retrenchment

To update your knowledge and understanding of retrenchment, have a look through this revision presentation

Revision Quiz - Porter’s Five Forces Model

Test your knowledge and understanding of Porter's Five Forces model with this ten-question revision quiz:

Launch Revision Quiz - Porter's Five Forces Model

You can update your studies of this important model by looking through these support resources:

Revision presentation on Porter's Five Forces Model

Study note on Porter's Five Forces Model

Revision Quiz - Strategy Models

Here are 15 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge and understanding of the key strategy models used in A2 business

Launch Revision Quiz - Strategy Models

Revision Quiz - Business & the Environment

Try these revision questions on the environmental issues facing business

Launch Revision Quiz - Environmental Issues

Revision Quiz - Business Ethics

This revision quiz provides 10 questions on Business Ethics.

Launch Revision Quiz - Business Ethics

Revision Quiz - Takeovers and Mergers

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Try these 10 revision MCQs on takeovers and mergers as part of your A2 business studies revision

Launch Revision Quiz - Takeovers and Mergers

Revision Quiz - Globalisation

Try these ten MCQs on the topic of globalisation.

Launch Revision Quiz - Globalisation

Replicating the stress of an exam to show the importance of planning.

Friday, May 09, 2014

“If I had 8 hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend 6 hours sharpening my axe”

Abraham Lincoln

“The battle is won before the battle is fought”

                                                                           Sun Tzu

“Time spent thinking about how to approach a particular question and ensuring the response stays focused is time well spent”

                                         AQA Business Studies Moderator

Despite these wise words, it would appear, based on in-depth research from my classes and the 1000s of A2 students from the BUSS4 Revision workshops, that most students do not spend time planning their answers. Their reason is invariably “I don’t have time”.

To dispel this myth I did the following; I asked a student to stand at the front of the class and gave him 30 seconds to answer an on-the-spot business studies question “Analyse the benefits of operating in niche market”. After lots of nervous umming-and-ahhing, the brave students managed to score one mark before the time was up.

I then gave him 30 seconds to plan an answer to the same question. He came back strong and gave a fantastic 6 mark answer! Conclusive, empirical, irrefutable evidence (sort of) that a small amount of time invested in planning in the short term will reap great benefits in the long term.

I wish you all the very best for the next month!

JLR, Lady Gaga and Abu Dhabi go Galactic!

Monday, May 05, 2014

Virgin Galactic is Richard Branson's dream to provide suborbital space flights to space tourists by 2015, and it provides a wealth of Business Studies concepts for AS and A2.

Firstly, the premium price of £150,000 to £250,000 (the cost of decent Rolls Royce to you or me) means it has a very specific target market; over 700 space tourists have signed up, with one third from America (the other two thirds come from over 50 different countries), most are millionaire men in their 50s and are definitely not risk-averse. Akin to Branson, many stated the moon landing of 1969 as the reason for their purchase.

Lady Gaga

In her quest for a new USP, Lady Gaga will be swapping her meat suit for a space one and be first earthling to sing live from space, ensuring that she maintains her outlandish, cutting edge image.

JLR & Virgin

These 2 iconic British brands are expanding the empire, and for BUSS4 students, the long-term partnership between JLR and Virgin, with their “shared vision of pioneering spirit, technological innovation and sense of adventure”, provides information for almost every section of the specification.

The CNBC article focuses on the technological innovations in JLRs new concept SUV.

In this short video, Richard Branson discusses his dream and vision, how JLR will aid Virgin in creating a completely new market and, to show that it’s not all about profit and pride, he hopes it will inspire future generations to pursue careers in engineering and science.

Abu Dhabi and beyond

Finally, Abu Dhabi state-controlled investment fund paid $280 million for a 32% stake in the business, in return for "regional rights to launch Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research space flights from the United Arab Emirates capital". It sees this as an Investment opportunity to progress from an international tourism hub, to an inter-galactic one, with this article suggesting Virgin space hotels in galaxies far far away!

BUSS4 2014: China Research Bullet 6 Overview

Sunday, May 04, 2014

This final research bullet overview focuses on the topic of how business strategy might be affected by developments in China.

We'll add to these notes over the coming days and weeks as we provide further support for BUSS4 here on the tutor2u Business Blog. Don't forget to follow tutor2u and tutor2u Business on Twitter so you can get first news of the latest resources to support your revision.

Also, don't forget to get hold of your BUSS4 and other AQA Business Revision Guides- essential support for the final stages of revision.

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BUSS4 2014: China Research Bullet 5 Overview

This introduction to and overview of the fifth research bullet for AQA BUSS4 2014 on China might be useful for students as they practice essay planning. The research bullet is on the ethical and environmental issues involved in trading with or operating in China.

We'll add to these notes over the coming days as we provide further support for BUSS4 here on the tutor2u Business Blog. Don't forget to follow tutor2u and tutor2u Business on Twitter so you can get first news of the latest resources to support your revision.

We also have a free online revision class for BUSS4 on our sister site Zondle - I've uploaded a series of revision quizzes on there which you can use to break up your revision and test your BUSS4 knowledge!

Also, don't forget to get hold of your BUSS4 and other AQA Business Revision Guides- essential support for the final stages of revision

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BUSS4 2014: China Research Bullet 4 Overview

These outline notes provide an overview of the fourth research bullet for BUSS4 China 2014 - the relative advantages and disadvantages of the ways in which businesses might operate in the Chinese market

We'll add to these notes over the coming days as we provide further support for BUSS4 here on the tutor2u Business Blog. Don't forget to follow tutor2u and tutor2u Business on Twitter so you can get first news of the latest resources to support your revision.

We also have a free online revision class for BUSS4 on our sister site Zondle - I've uploaded a series of revision quizzes on there which you can use to break up your revision and test your BUSS4 knowledge!

Also, don't forget to get hold of your BUSS4 and other AQA Business Revision Guides- essential support for the final stages of revision

read more...»

BUSS4 2014: China Research Bullet 3 Overview

Here are some introductory notes that focus on the third research point for BUSS4 China in 2014 - namely the factors affecting the success or failure of businesses trading with or operating in China

We'll add to these notes over the coming days as we provide further support for BUSS4 here on the tutor2u Business Blog. Don't forget to follow tutor2u and tutor2u Business on Twitter so you can get first news of the latest resources to support your revision.

We also have a free online revision class for BUSS4 on our sister site Zondle - I've uploaded a series of revision quizzes on there which you can use to break up your revision and test your BUSS4 knowledge!

Also, don't forget to get hold of your BUSS4 and other AQA Business Revision Guides - essential support for the final stages of revision

read more...»

BUSS4 2014: China Research Bullet 2 Overview

The notes below provide an introduction to the second research bullet for BUSS4 China 2014 - the risks and rewards involved in trading with or operating in China. 

We'll add to these notes over the coming days as we provide further support for BUSS4 here on the tutor2u Business Blog. Don't forget to follow tutor2u and tutor2u Business on Twitter so you can get first news of the latest resources to support your revision.

We also have a free online revision class for BUSS4 on our sister site Zondle - I've uploaded a series of revision quizzes on there which you can use to break up your revision and test your BUSS4 knowledge!

Also, don't forget to get hold of your BUSS4 and other AQA Business Revision Guides - essential support for the final stages of revision

read more...»

BUSS4 2014: China Research Bullet 1 Overview

Here is an overview of some key points and examples relating to the first research bullet point for BUSS4 China (2014) - The extent to which China creates opportunities and threats for businesses.

We'll add to these notes over the coming days as we provide further support for BUSS4 here on the tutor2u Business Blog. Don't forget to follow tutor2u and tutor2u Business on Twitter so you can get first news of the latest resources to support your revision.

We also have a free online revision class for BUSS4 on our sister site Zondle - I've uploaded a series of revision quizzes on there which you can use to break up your revision and test your BUSS4 knowledge!

Also, don't forget to get hold of your BUSS4 and other AQA Business Revision Guides - essential support for the final stages of revision

read more...»

China’s exports losing low-cost advantages

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Boston Consulting Group have produced a fascinating new report which investigates the competitiveness of the world's top 25 goods exporting nations. Their press release highlights significant changes in the world order over the last decade. The newly-minted BCG Global Manufacturing Cost-Competitiveness Index incorporates four factors: energy costs, productivity, wages and exchange rates. That analysis shows that Mexico now has lower manufacturing costs than China, while Brazil is now one of the highest-cost countries, and the UK is the cheapest location in western Europe.


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Musings on Moyes - leadership, culture and change management.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

So it seems two great passions - football and Business Studies - can be combined for Unit 4...at least something good came out of Moyes' reign!

 

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China V India - Who will “emerge” victorious?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hostile government, the threat of a financial meltdown, slowing growth, higher wages and an ageing population. Is China still the best option for foreign investment? 

Compare this to India's younger, cheaper workforce, more welcoming government and forecasted largest middle-class population by 2030.

To allow students to analyse and evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of investment in China , I've attached a research task based on India that gives key economic and demographic information, and looks at the "Indian strategies" for the following Tutor2u BUSS4 Top Ten businesses: JLR, Starbucks, KFC, Apple, Samsung and Ikea.

Good luck with the revision this term!

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!

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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.

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.

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