Get Summer 2014 Right First Time with tutor2u Exam Coaching & Revision Workshops
“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.
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!
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.read more...»
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’re busy working on brand new support resources for the BUSS4 Exam Coaching Workshops for June 2014. It already looks like we'll have packed houses for the intensive days dedicated to supporting students as the get ready for the BUSS4 exam on 18 June 2014.
The outline content of the five BUSS4 exam coaching sessions is shown further below.
How to book places (subject to availability)
Email Janet Cahill with your confirmed numbers , or
Order online(including private individual students / groups), orread more...»
Here are some practice BUSS4 Section B Essay Questions which could be used for revision / essay planning practice.
Here they are. If I come up with any more, I'll add them to this blog!read more...»
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.
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.
We also recommend that BUSS4 students make use of the following resources:
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?)
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
Hope it helps!
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.read more...»
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
- Government intervention (or Google’s intervention with the government)
- Managing change
Most amusing is the Daily Mash's vision of a world run by Google... as if we have a choice!
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
The announcement of Google's takeover of smart home-appliance maker Nest for $3.2bn is potentially hugely significant for Google.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.
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 2014read more...»
You read the books; you watched the movies; you've visited the theme park. Next up - the Harry Potter Musical?read more...»
The global pharmaceutical industry is under threat, like never before, for the way that it markets its products.read more...»
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".read more...»
A musical starter that introduces most elements of economic environment... in the funkiest way possible!
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:read more...»
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.read more...»
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:read more...»
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.read more...»
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?read more...»
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.read more...»
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”.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
I've been updating my records of large takeovers and mergers in recent years and looking at whether shareholder value was created or destroyed by each deal.
One takeover which strikes me as being highly successful is that of YouTube by Google. Here is some evidence that supports that view.read more...»
This 5 minute video from the excellent Andrew Hill of the FT should be required viewing for every advanced business student.
With an increasing number of companies refocusing their priorities beyond profit and towards the welfare of their suppliers, employees and the planet, Andrew Hill, management editor of the FT, asks what the repercussions are for business. Superb.read more...»
Excellent BBC2 business documentary last night on the growth of low cost airlines 'Flights and Fights: Inside the Low Cost Airlines'. The programme explores how Ryanair and Easyjet have transformed the European airline industry.
I've been teaching Business for some years now. But I don't have any qualifications in the subject (my background is Economics). So this year, I thought it'd be fun to take my Business A-level. I'm getting sponsored within school on a per-mark basis with the proceeds going to a project the school is linked with in Ghana, but besides that worthy cause it's been a real eye-opener to be there in the thick of it with the students. With one exam to go, tomorrow, I thought I'd put up some thoughts on how its gone so far...read more...»
A key issue for students looking at the challenge of changing organisational culture is whether new leadership is required? Can the change be achieved without someone new at the top?
Let's look at a sample essay case study to see how some potential essay points might be identified.read more...»
In our exam preparation workshops, we coach students to develop their essay writing technique by using a series of approaches which help students write relevant answers to the required depth of application, analysis and evaluation.
A core part of that approach is the PEEL technique for writing powerful paragraph points. PEEL is a particularly powerful approach because it allows students to reach the highest levels of application (good application) and analysis (good analysis) in just one well-developed and argued paragraph point.
Here's a key-point summary of the PEEL method.read more...»
In the final days before the BUSS4 exam, part of your revision should include looking at some exam-style essay questions spending 5-10 minutes planning a relevant answer. A key technique in BUSS4 is being able to focus on a small number of relevant points which directly answer the essay question. You can only do this if you really understand what the question is answering!
So here are 10 exam-style essay titles for BUSS4 Section A on the research theme - Organisational Culture.
Have a go at planning the paragraph points you might make to answer them - and also which examples/evidence you might bring in. Remember to plan each point using our PEEL approach
And don't forget to use our Stepping Stones approach to think about how you would develop each of your chosen points. You don't have to write the entire paragraph point - just think about that logical chain of argument.
Finally, have a think (or look at your notes) to identify which examples and evidence you could bring in to help support the argument in each paragraph point. If you can't think of 2-3 relevant examples to use, then you need to top up your research (have a look through the many blog entries on our Section A Blog)
Anyway...here are the 10 Section A questions to try:
A great way to practice exam technique in BUSS4 is to spend 5-10 minutes planning an exam answer. A key technique in BUSS4 is being able to focus on a small number of relevant points which directly answer the essay question. You can only do this if you really understand what the question is answering!
So here are 10 exam-style essay titles for BUSS4 Section B. Have a go at planning the points you might make to answer them - and also which examples/evidence you might bring in.
Don't forget to use our Stepping Stones approach to developing how you would develop each of your chosen points. You don't have to write the entire paragraph point - just think about that logical chain of argument.
Anyway...here are the 10 Section B questions to try:read more...»
Ronnie Corbett is a superb story-teller. Once he begins, you can sit back, relax and allow the story to unwind, step by step. His stories ramble on and on…and on. Each story is filled with superfluous details, with Corbett easily side-tracked by related memories and very slowly getting to the point. Eventually you get to the punch line, but it’s the journey or story that mattered.
Corbett’s method of story-telling neatly sums up the approach taken by too many BUSS4 students in their use of evidence and examples in their essays.read more...»
The final BUSS4 online revision clinic will take place here at 8 p.m. on 16 June 2013. In this clinic we'll cover both Section A and Section B.
Don't forget that we've already run a Section A clinic - the full transcript of which is available here. Look through that transcript to see if your question has already been answered!
The clinic enables students to pose questions to our teacher panel, leaving enough time to act on the advice before the exam. The online revision clinic will be hosted here on this blog entry - so please save this URL to your favorites if you would like to participate.
- We cannot guarantee to answer all questions submitted
- Only submit one question at a time: multiple submissions of the same question will lead to you being blocked!
- Check whether the question you want to ask has already been answered - particularly if you join us mid-way during the clinic
- A full transcript of the clinic will be available on this blog URL as soon as the clinic has ended
A good visual way of analysing your BUSS4 research organisations for both Section A and B is to relate them to different concepts or models. (apologies for the drawings in the picture above) To go even further could be to link elements of some of these models and concepts together which can give a more in-depth, holistic view of the organisations in relation to some key BUSS4 topics. I have started to get my students to relate them to the following 6:
The link between Leadership, Values and Organisational Culture will be a familiar one for BUSS4 students. This video “Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action” from TED talks is a simple and really interesting way to make these links. It’s summed up by a “Golden Circle” and 3 words: What, How and Whyread more...»
A fascinating, short interview here with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
Cook compares Apple's performance to its competitors, and explains his product strategy in an onstage interview.
His argument is clear. Apple's strategy is one of differentiation, not cost leadership based on market-leading scale. For Apple, it is not about making the most of each of the product categories in which it has a presence - it is about making the best in the market.
So, Samsung is now the clear global market leader in mobile phones (including the fast-growing smartphone segment). But Cook argues that Apple makes the best phone. Compare the iPhone 5 with the Samsung Galaxy S4 - is he right?
For students, an important question to consider is this - what the key advantages that a successful strategy of product differentiation can bring? And can it be sustained against the intensive competition that Apple is facing from the likes of Samsung, Google and Huawei?read more...»
It is relatively easy to identify evidence on how organisational culture can be an intangible asset of a business - a source of competitive advantage and a key reason for a business enjoying industry-beating financial performance.
However, the reverse can also be true. If organisational culture is managed incorrectly or (worse) left un-managed, it can become dysfunctional or toxic. In these situations the organisational culture of a business can become a liability, not an asset. It can even lead to the failure of the business.read more...»