AQA BUSS4 Research Theme for 2015 - Manufacturing in the UK

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BUSS4 UK manufacturing - Jaguar Land Rover expands

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Good news for UK manufacturing this week, as Jaguar Land Rover announce a rise in sales of 9% globally, with a quarter of those going to China, a 7% rise in the UK, as Land Rover have their best ever year and Jaguar their best for a decade.

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UK Manufacturing - why did UK output fall by 0.7% in October?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Studying this year's research theme really requires students to have a solid understanding of the macroeconomic factors which affect the demand for products made by UK manufacturers. Yesterday, the ONS released the latest figures for changes in UK industrial output, which are worth spending some time on. Below I have extracted the key points of the ONS's report, and added some analysis of the reasons for the changes.

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UK Manufacturing and Porter’s Five Forces

The case of Premier Foods and the 'pay to stay' payments that they were extracting from their suppliers gives an opportunity to use the Porter's Five Forces model to analyse the food manufacturing industry in the UK. Last week, BBC's Newsnight carried a report about Premier Foods, who manufacture many key brands including Ambrosia, Mr Kipling, Oxo and Bisto.

The online report comes with a 5-minute video clip which sets up the topic nicely. Newsnight's Laura Kuenssberg interviews engineer Bob Horsely, who had a contract to supply maintenance services to Ambrosia's factory in Devon. He received a letter from Premier Foods saying that "We are aiming to work with a smaller number of strategic suppliers in the future that can better support and invest in our growth ideas. We will now require you to make an investment payment to support our growth." When he queried this, he received another letter: "We are looking to obtain an investment payment from our entire supply base and unfortunately those who do not participate will be nominated for de-list." In other words, pay up or we won't buy from you any more. 

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Inside Rolls Royce – Manufacturing in the UK

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A fantastic documentary for the Section A Research Theme (bullets 2, 4 & 5), that also ticks a great many boxes for the BUSS1, 2 & 3 specifications.

Channel 4’s Inside Rolls Royce charts the production of the Celestial (a one-off showpiece car that has more bling than Liberace, as well as an optional £20,000 picnic hamper!). It covers many topics within Human Resources, Operations, and Marketing, but my highlights are as follows:

  • The front of house manager who checks the length of the grass
  • The relentless quality control that almost breaks a man
  • The marketing of the new Rolls Royce Wraith in Abu Dhabi, which includes hand selected movers-and-shakers from the city getting to test drive it around the formula 1 track

The documentary is available via this link (if you don’t have a C4 account, it takes only 2 minutes to register) and I’ve created a  worksheet with 29 questions (numbers correspond to the minutes) intended to promote discussion about a brand synonymous with British excellence.

Hope it helps

Manufacturing and Innovation - Dyson Goes Big on R&D

Friday, November 21, 2014

This business news story has it all!  Dyson, one of the best-known UK manufacturers, has announced a £1bn investment in research and development over the next four years. Why? Because it has set a corporate objective to launch 100 new products over those four years.

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UK Manufacturing - Supply Chains Need Strengthening

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The need for supply chains supporting UK manufacturing to be significantly strengthened has been highlighted by a new research report from the CBI and consultants AT Kearney.

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UK Manufacturing Competitiveness: The Threat from Energy Costs and Skills Gaps

An important contribution to the debate about the UK's industrial strategy was made by the CBI in October 2014 and much of what was said is directly relevant to students researching the opportunities and threats facing UK manufacturing.

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Manufacturing Competitiveness - Rolls Royce Takes Steps to Improve Operational Efficiency

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Competitiveness - and specifically the need to be cost-effective - is at the heart of a significant announcement by one of the UK's most significant manufacturers Rolls Royce.

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Manufacturing - Printing a House

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Advocates of the transformative power of 3D printing (or additive manufacturing to give it the formal name) will be excited by this fascinating example of how it might be used in the near future. 

An architectural consultancy in the Netherlands is using 3D technology to build an entire house!

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Manufacturing Technology - The Bendable Opportunity

A simply stunning video report here from the FT which introduces the work of an innovative UK manufacturer - Smartkem - which is looking to innovate in the emerging printed electronics sector.

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Manufacturing - Energy Costs and Competitiveness

Friday, October 17, 2014

Surveys of manufacturing businesses in the UK often ask what aspect of government policy would be most helpful to manufacturers. High up the list of priorities come a better-trained and educated workforce, lower taxes and greater financial incentives to invest in R&D. However, there is one factor that nearly always comes top - energy pricing.

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Trunki - Reshoring, Copycats and Losses

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The company behind Trunki is reported to have experienced a significant decline in profitability, according to this article in the Telegraph.

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Manufacturing in Action - The Kit Kat Supply Chain

Monday, October 06, 2014

This production line in York makes 5 million Kit Kat bars every day. What is involved in the manufacturing process? Have a break and take a look!

The short video focuses on the local sourcing of milk from Scotland which supplies the ingredient preparation (crumb) plant at Girvan. Reference is made to the concept of "food miles", an important idea linked to resource sustainability.

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Manufacturing: Textiles in Lancashire - Last Mill Standing

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Some important historical perspective here on the long-term decline of manufacturing in the UK. 

This video (from 2011) focuses on the decline of the cotton mills in Lancashire and the attempt of one cotton factory owner to stay alive.

Three years on, and Lancashire Textiles is still alive!

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Manufacturing: Does the UK Steel Industry Have a Future?

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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UK Manufacturing - A Short Video Introduction to the UK Automotive Sector

Monday, September 22, 2014

The UK automotive manufacturing sector is one of the most successful and vibrant parts of manufacturing in the UK.

To get students excited to learn more about great case studies like JLR, Nissan, Honda and JCB, show them this short video. It's packed with useful research stats too - how many can they jot down on first viewing (and then show them again!)

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Choosing a Business Location: Manufacturing in South-east Asia?

Where should multinationals base their manufacturing operations? What are the risks involved in changing location? How can these risks be mitigated? 

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Technology & Manufacturing - Innovation in Diesel Engine Design & Production

Monday, September 08, 2014

A great video here from the Royal Institution which illustrates how technology and manufacturing move together through the process of new product development.

The location for the video is a JCB engine factory and our guide explains how technological change impacts on the development of the next generation of high-powered diesel engines.

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BUSS4 research theme and the impact of technological change on businesses manufacturing in the UK

Monday, September 01, 2014

With brilliant timing to coincide with the first bullet-point for the new AQA BUSS4 research theme, today's Deloitte Monday Briefing focuses on Technology and Human Welfare. The piece considers the paradox between the very considerable effect that communication technologies have had on our daily lives, and the far less noticeable effect on output; measured productivity – effectively the efficiency of production – has improved far more slowly than the capacity of computers.

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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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What do you mean by ‘Business Class’?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Which airline boss has said for many years that “an airplane is nothing more than a bus with wings on”?

Of course, the answer is Michael O'Leary, the CEO of Ryanair - Europe's biggest budget airline. 

But, as Ryanair's passenger figures show that 25% of their customers are actually travelling on business, they have decided that now is the time to introduce a 'Business Class' service.

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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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Revision Presentation - Problems of Takeovers and Mergers including Integration

Sunday, June 15, 2014

This streamed revision presentation examines the problems of takeovers and mergers including difficulties integrating businesses successfully

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Revision Presentation - Impact On and Reaction Of Stakeholders to Takeovers and Mergers

This streamed revision presentation outlines some evidence of the impact on, and reaction of, stakeholders to takeovers and mergers

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Revision Presentation - Impact of Takeovers and Mergers on Business Performance

This streamed revision presentation looks at the impact of takeovers andmergers on the performance of the businesses involved.

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Revision Presentation - Factors Influencing the Success of Takeovers and Mergers

This streamed revision presentation considers the factors influencing the success of takeovers and mergers

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Revision Presentation - Motives for Takeovers and Mergers

This streamed revision presentation considers the motives for takeovers and mergers and how these link with corporate strategy

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10 Features of the Chinese Economy You Could Use in a BUSS4 Essay

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The BUSS4 research theme requires students to be "aware of recent trends in key economic and demographic data for China such as national income, income per person, wage costs, exchange rates and population trends".

Here are a selection of key charts  (and a brief supporting commentary) that help students ensure they are up-to-date as they plan and write their BUSS4 China essay.

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Starbucks’ Long-term Investment in Leadership of the Chinese Coffee Shop Market

Friday, June 13, 2014

How on earth is Starbucks making a success of its push into China? China is a tea-drinking nation. In fact, China has the world's oldest and largest tea-drinking culture. Chinese people hate coffee – they say it tastes so bitter it is like tasting medicine.

But, look at the evidence. Starbucks has been in China for 13 years, with an initial presence in the major tier 1 cities Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Starbucks expects China to become its second-largest market by 2014 aiming to have 1,500 outlets throughout China by 2015. The number of staff employed by Starbucks in China is forecast to rise from 12,000 to 30,000.

According to the latest Euromonitor report, Starbucks has a 60 per cent share of China's emerging coffee house market, well above its closest competitor.

That sounds like a success story. So how has it done it?

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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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From Startup to Global Competitor - Insights into Xiaomi

Saturday, June 07, 2014

This is a terrific article from BusinessWeek on the growth strategy of Xiaomi, a Chinese business that is fast-becoming one of the countries best-known global brands.

Lots in the article (and the related video which I have added further below) for business students to note - I have jotted down some of the things I spotted below.

We've written before about Xiaomi and it is certainly an important business to watch - take a look at the other business blog articles on Xiaomi.

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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 - China-Britain Business Council

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) partners with UKTI to promote trade between the two countries. Their mission is “ help UK companies of all sizes and sectors, whether new entrants or established operations, access the full potential of the fastest growing market in the world.”

They publish a regular magazine called Focus, and I have been through a few recent editions looking for nuggets of information to add to the files of research for BUSS4 Section A answers. Here is a summary of what I have found – I hope that some of it is useful:

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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.

Organisational Culture - Problems of Changing Organisational Culture

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The key problems in changing organisational culture are outlined in this brief revision note:

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Organisational Culture - Ways of Changing Organisational Culture

In this revision note, we summarise some key points that students might consider when looking at ways of changing organisational culture:

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Organisational Culture: The Reasons for Changes in Organisational Culture

We've summarised below some key points that students should consider when revising the reasons for changes in organisational culture:

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Organisational Culture: The Impact of Organisational Culture on Business Strategies and Performance

This revision note summarises some of the key points that students should consider when looking at the impact of organisational culture on business strategies and performance:

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Organisational Culture: Factors influencing the Culture of an Organisation and Cultural Differences

We've summarised below some key points that students should consider when revising the the factors influencing the culture of an organisation and cultural differences within an organisation:

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Organisational Culture: Tony Hsieh on Zappos, Core Values, Culture and Organisational Structure

If students are looking for a research example of a business that is truly built around a deliberate attempt to create and nurture a strong organisational culture, they need look no further than online shoe retailer Zappos.

Tony Hsieh - the founder of Zappos (bought by Amazon in 2009) wanted to build a business based around a simple idea. That it - if you get the organisational culture right - then everything else that you need to be successful will fall into place.

Is he right?

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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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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

read more...»

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...»

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