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Haier Delayers to Encourage Innovation and Teamwork

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A fascinating and useful profile here from The Economist of Zhang Ruimin, the Chinese entrepreneur who has guided Haier through a successful strategy of international expansion.

Ruimin challenged the preconception that Chinese manufactured goods could be produced very cheaply but to a poor quality. His relentless focus on higher production quality has enabled Haier to become the world's largest producer of "white goods" such as washing machines, fridges and freezers.

read more...»

China’s Urbanisation - the Largest Migration in History

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Two stunning videos here which help explain the scale and effect of the largest migration of people in history - from rural to urban China.

read more...»

China’s Young Workers Shun Factory Employment

Some great evidence here about the changing labour market in China. It is becoming tougher for China's manufacturing facilities to recruit and retain young Chinese.

For example, companies like Foxconn, which assembles most of the world's iPads and iPhones, are struggling to find workers to fill their massive facilities as more young Chinese shun the factory floor.

read more...»

Hong Kong - the Great Mall of China

During our CPD briefing days on China we've often mentioned the rapid growth of the Chinese middle class and the resulting impact on demand for consumer goods. China now accounts for 20% of global demand for luxury goods and this is illustrated in the following short video from the excellent FT team based in Hong Kong.

read more...»

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

Thursday, October 03, 2013

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

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

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

read more...»

Investing in China’s Urbanisation Opportunities - KKR Takes a Stake in Haier

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A strong sign here of the increasing competitive strength of businesses based in China that wish to expand into other markets around the world. US-based venture capitalist KKR has invested around $550m for a 10% stake in Qingdao Haier, China's largest refrigerator and washing machine maker.

We have mentioned Haier before on the Business Blog as a good example of an emerging markets multinational corporation (EMMC) and Haier is also recommended as a case study for students researching China & Emerging Markets for AQA BUSS4.

read more...»

Onshoring - Is China Losing its Competitiveness as a Low-Cost Location for Manufacturing

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More than half of U.S.-based manufacturing executives at companies with sales greater than $1 billion are planning to bring back production to the U.S. from China or are actively considering it, according to a new survey by The Boston Consulting Group.

The share of executives who are planning to "onshore" or “reshore” or are considering it rose to 54 percent, compared with 37 percent of executives who responded to a similar BCG survey in February 2012.

read more...»

Xiaomi - The Apple of China?

Here's Lei Jun (on the left). Notice something familiar about him? The blue jeans; dark top and introducing a shiny new smartphone to present to the world's media. Uncanny.

Lei Jun is the founder and CEo of a firm called Xiaomi which the Chinese media have nicknamed the “Apple of the East."

Lei Jun himself is also increasingly being called the "Steve Jobs of China" - and not just for his dress sense and presentational style!

read more...»

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

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?

read more...»

Can Ryanair Change its Corporate Culture with the Same Leadership?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Could Ryanair be about to make a concerted effort to change its organisational culture? Can the low-cost airline soften its corporate image and improve its customer service performance at the same time?

That appears to be the plan following comments made by Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's controversial Founder and CEO, at the recent Ryanair AGM.

read more...»

Abandoned Shopping Carts: Why did Tesco and Best Buy Fail in China?

Just why have so many Western retail giants struggled to succeed in China? If global retailers like Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour and Best Buy have struggled, what hope is there for the rest?

read more...»

Alibaba Beats Amazon to the E-Commerce Prize in China

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Say the word e-commerce in the US, UK and many other developed economies and one word usually comes to mind – Amazon. The Seattle-based multinational claims to be the world's largest online retailer. It has highly diversified operations that have taken the business well beyond the original proposition - selling books online. CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com in 1995 and over the next two decades Amazon has expanded its retail websites to dominate the market in Canada, the UK, France, Germany and elsewhere.

However, in China, say e-commerce and a different "A" word is on everyone's lips. Alibaba is a private Chinese company that is now the largest business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer company in the world. Amazon might dominate global business-to-consumer online retailing. But, in China, Amazon has a very small market share and it is Alibaba that dominates.

In fact, Alibaba can legitimately claim to be the world’s leading e-commerce business. Reports suggest that Alibaba handled total sales of $170 billion in 2012 – which is more than the transaction value handled by Amazon ($96bn) and eBay ($75bn) combined!

After more than eight years of effort, Amazon has less than 1 per cent of China’s $196bn e-commerce market. Alibaba is estimated to have a market share of nearer 75 per cent.

To put this into perspective, China’s e-commerce market is already the largest in the world and by 2020 is forecast to be bigger than the existing markets in the USA, UK, Japan, Germany and France combined. So Alibaba’s market share of over 70% makes it a very big player indeed.

read more...»

Why Localisation Is Important for Success in China – Yum! Brands and the Rapid Growth of KFC

Businesses from outside China trying to sell in China face a critical question as they try to enter China. How far should they go to adapt or redesign (“localise”) their products and services to meet the needs and wants of customers in China? Should they adapt existing products just enough to appeal to consumers in China? Or should they look to start again – rethinking the product or service from the ground up – in order to established a position in the market and then gain market share?

Yum! Brands is a multinational that operates or licenses Kentucky Fried Chicken ("KFC"), Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and other small restaurant brands worldwide. Yum! is the world's largest fast food restaurant company in terms of outlets with more than 39,000 restaurants around the world in over 125 countries and global sales of over $12bn.

For the last decade, Yum! Brands has relied upon international expansion as the main driver of revenue and profit growth. China in particular has proved to be a significant source of growth. For example, KFC has opened an average of one new outlet per day in China and has an objective of reaching 15,000 outlets.

KFC has achieved this high rate of growth by adopting the concept of localisation. It has largely ignored the traditional model of KFC outlets in the US and other developed economies - that of a franchise operation with a limited menu, low prices and an emphasis on customers taking-out their food and drink to consume. Instead, the KFC model in China was redesigned to meet local needs.

read more...»

GSK Under Fire Again For Alleged Corruption in China

The risks for businesses from outside of China from operating in China have been well-illustrated by the problems now faced by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline plc ("GSK”).

GSK is facing claims that it made corrupt payments of around £323m to Chinese doctors in order to win market share. GSK is cooperating with the Chinese government in an investigation which might result in a substantial fine or other punishments for the company.

read more...»

How Did P&G Reach the Top in China?

In early 2013 the BBC asked global brand research company Millward Brown to identify the 20 most powerful foreign brands in China: the ones that have gone in and succeeded where many others have failed.

When the results came back one noticeable feature was that one company - Procter and Gamble ("P&G") - had three of the top 5 brands!

Of course you might expect P&G to be successful in China. After all, P&G is the world's largest maker of household and personal-care products. At the start of this decade P&G had set itself an ambitious corporate objective. It aimed to add 1 billion customers by 2015 (a 25% increase) and P&G were clear that emerging markets would be crucial in achieving that goal. Of all the emerging markets, P&G is strongest in China, which by 2012 had become its second-biggest national market with around 6% of the firm's worldwide sales.

So how has P&G managed to achieve such a strong position in China? Why had P&G succeeded when so many other Western brands had struggled to establish a leading position there?

To understand the achievement, you need to go right back to when foreign firms were first allowed to enter China. Here are some key features of the P&G approach to building its business in China.

read more...»

China’s Urban Billion

Friday, September 20, 2013

China's drive to urbanise is expected to transform millions of poor peasants into city-dwellers in the next two decades. However, despite urban migration being a top priority for policymakers in Beijing, many ordinary Chines are feeling left behind by the country's rapid urbanisation.

The Chinese government aims to urbanise 200 million people over the next decade, including the development of "semi-rural" areas. China's rapid and significant urbanisation programme creates huge demands for infrastructure development (transport, housing, health, education etc). But it also comes with important social costs. Adapting to new lives is not easy and few of the newly urbanised population qualify for free education and other services.

Ben Marino from the FT has produced this excellent short video which highlights the key issues, particularly from the perspective of the rural population suddenly thrust into an urban environment.

read more...»

China’s Economy - A Quick Overview for Business Students

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Many A Level Business Students have been challenged to develop their understanding of the Chinese economy in the context of developments in emerging markets. In this blog entry, we'll provide an overview of the key economic indicators for China. Later blog entries will take a look at some important specific economic issues such as foreign direct investment, population change, urbanisation, international trade and key industrial sectors.

read more...»

More Trouble in China for Danone?

The risks of doing business in China have been highlighted again with news that a division of Danone, the French multinational with global brands operating in bottled water and dairy products, has been accused of bribery.

The Chinese authorities have instigated a number of investigations into bribery recently. The accusation for Danone to handle is that its baby milk brand Dumex paid large bribes to doctors and nurses in Tianjin to incentivise them to feed newborns Dunex brand infant formula.

read more...»

China at a Turning Point?

BUSS4 students researching China and Emerging Markets need to develop a good overview of the "big picture" issues facing China. This short article posted by Michael Andrew (Global Chairman and CEO at Accountants KPMG) provides some useful key points that ought to be added to student research notes.

The key is then for students to revisit each point as they identify relevant examples and then to develop chains of argument about HOW and WHY each point is important. There's plenty of time left to do that!

read more...»

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

Monday, September 16, 2013

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

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

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

read more...»

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

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

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

read more...»

Competing in Emerging Markets: Adidas Goes West in China

Monday, September 02, 2013

CK Prahalad once wrote of the "fortune at the bottom of the pyramid" - reflecting the commercial opportunities for businesses that can successfully connect and bring products to markets inhabited by low income consumers whose living standards are on the rise. China's fast-growing economy provides an enormous opportunity, but how can companies win sales in the Chinese interior, hundreds of miles away from the coastal centres of commerce?

As wealth and consumerism reach China's most remote cities, foreign brands are venturing far from Shanghai and Beijing hoping to win over millions of new consumers. The FT's Patti Waldmeir visits two lower tier cities in central China and looks at how Adidas is expanding in the far outposts of the Middle Kingdom.

read more...»

Google and Youtube - One of the Best Takeovers in History?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

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...»

Low cost airlines

Friday, June 21, 2013

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.

read more...»

Organisational Culture Change - Is New Leadership Required?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

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...»

BUSS4 Exam Technique - The Basics of PEEL

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...»

BUSS4 Section B - Prepare for Hybrid Essay Questions

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I’ve been taking a close look through our AQA BUSS4 Topic Tracker to get a feel for how the Section B essay titles have been selected and structured in recent papers (and since the current spec was introduced). There is a clear progression in the style of the Section B essays and I suspect this has important implications for students refining their exam technique. I’ve jotted down a few thoughts about this below.

read more...»

BUSS4 - 10 Section A Essay Questions on Organisational Culture to Practice

Saturday, June 15, 2013

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:


read more...»

BUSS4: Don’t be a Story-teller – Be an Expert Pundit

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


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...»

BUSS4 Revision Clinic - 16 June 2013

Saturday, June 08, 2013

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.

Please note:

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

Ultimate Guide to BUSS4 Essay Writing

BUSS4 Revision Guide

Our BUSS4 Organisational Culture Blog Channel

read more...»

BUSS4 in 3 words: What do they say about Leadership, Values and Culture?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

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 Why

read more...»

Organisational Culture: When the Culture Needs to Change

At what stage does organisational culture need to fundamentally change?

read more...»

Organisation Culture: Strong v Weak

Monday, May 27, 2013

If culture is like the DNA of an organisation, then you can argue that the culture of every organisation is unique. However, it is still possible to group certain styles or types of organisational culture. By doing, students are provided with an opportunity to compare and contrast - a vital exam skill!

Let's look at an obvious basis for comparison - strong versus weak culture.

read more...»

Organisational Culture - The Crucial Importance of Core Values

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Do you have a set a core values?  What deeply held beliefs shape the way you see the world and how you act? 

Your core values underpin the way in which you behave, act, and how you live your life. So, if someone asked you to list your two most important values, what would they be?

I ask the question because the concept of core values is essential to understanding organisational culture.

Indeed I would hope that the role of core values would feature in many high-scoring BUSS4 essays for students answering questions about organisational culture – they are important!

read more...»

Organisational Culture: Toxic Culture and Business Performance

Friday, May 24, 2013

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...»

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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

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 a couple of years ago) 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?

read more...»

Would You Fit into the Organisational Culture at Ikea?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Right. That's it. I'm off to work at Ikea. I just know I'd fit in...

read more...»

Strategy, Change & Culture: Moya Greene Seems to be Delivering!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

“Our strategy is delivering. The transformation of Royal Mail is well underway”.

That’s the view of Moya Greene, CEO of Royal Mail, as she announced the full year results for Royal Mail to 31 March 2013 today.

As students who attended our BUSS4 Exam Coaching Workshops will recall, I think that Royal Mail is one of the very best research case studies to use for both Section A (organisational culture) and Section B essays in the BUSS4 exam.

The latest financial results of Royal Mail Group are packed full with useful insights and data which could be used effectively to support paragraph points in a BUSS4 essay.

Here are just a few examples:

read more...»

BUSS4 Online Research Clinic Organisational Culture - June 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Online Clinic to Provide Support for BUSS4 Section A Research on Organisational Culture

Wednesday 22 May 2013 9.00 pm

We're holding a free online research clinic to support students completing their research on the BUSS4 Section A research theme of Organisational Culture.

This one hour session will just focus on Section A - not the other topics in Section B which we will cover in a later session in June.

Students - in order to participate (i.e. ask a question; comment on discussion threads) you will need to be logged in using your Facebook or Twitter account when the online revision clinic goes live at 9.00 p.m. on Wednesday 22 May 2013 - here on this blog entry.

Please note:

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

Ultimate Guide to BUSS4 Essay Writing

BUSS4 Revision Guide

Our BUSS4 Organisational Culture Blog Channel

read more...»

Business response to the economic environment: zero hours contracts

Saturday, May 18, 2013

From the employer's point of view, a zero hours contract is a great example of the benefits of the flexible labour market. They allow the employer to change the number of hours an employee works each week, with more shifts offered when they are busy, and fewer when they are not; costs can therefore be controlled and matched more exactly to revenue. They are particularly popular with the fast food outlets like McDonalds and Subway, and high street chains like Boots and Sports Direct. Those employers draw heavily on the younger end of the labour market, with many of their staff being students who are looking for flexible shifts that work around their study hours; for them a zero hours contract may work well. However it is also important to consider whether this will have a detrimental effect on the business's culture;  with a high proportion of staff working irregular hours it may become much more difficult to instil a culture and sense of identity with the organisation.

read more...»

Strategy & Leadership - Harriet Green at Thomas Cook Outlines Her Strategy

Thursday, May 16, 2013

We've previously highlighted the arrival of Harriet Green as the new CEO of Thomas Cook as a great research example for business students. New CEOs - particularly those recruited externally - tend to dive straight into "strategic reviews" which then result in changes in strategic direction, disposal of non-core businesses etc. Harriet Green is no exception. And in this YouTube clip, she outlines her proposed strategy for the ailing travel industry business.

The clip is almost two hours in length. However, it is the first section (from about 3 minutes 30 in) which is particularly interesting and relevant for business students. You get a strong sense of Harriet Green's personality from the presentation and a clear statement of her strategic objectives for the business.

read more...»

Leadership & Culture: The Depends On Factors that will Determine Apple’s Future?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Can Apple's CEO Tim Cook provide the right leadership to sustain the firm's reputation for innovation?

That's the question posed in this short Businessweek article which looks at three key factors which may determine whether Apple's innovative culture can be sustained and nurtured.

It's a good piece and well worth reading not just as an example of analysis and evaluation!

read more...»

Emerging Markets Strategy - JCB Exploits the International Opportunity

Monday, May 13, 2013

Students looking for a great example of how a UK business can transform its fortunes by focusing on the opportunities in emerging markets need look no further than JCB.

read more...»

3 Businesses That Have Thrived during the Economic Downturn

It is now six years since the global financial crisis triggered a prolonged downturn in economic activity. The UK economy, like other developed economies, has struggled to escape from a period of stagnant economic growth.

However, despite the weak economy, many UK firms have succeeded in significantly growing their revenues and profits.

Here are three examples of such businesses. Their strategies for success are different – but there are also some similarities.

Can you compare and contrast these three – and also identify some other businesses that have enjoyed similar success despite the tough economic environment?

You might also consider:

  • What factors have driven revenue growth at each of the three businesses?
  • Has their growth strategy been based on organic or external development?
  • To what extent has their growth been driven by international expansion?
  • Do you think their recent success can be sustained?
  • What factors might that continued success depend on?

read more...»

Organisational Culture: Six Components of a Great Corporate Culture (HBR)

Thursday, May 09, 2013

This new blog entry from the HBR is useful research material for students wanting to develop the link between organisational culture and competitive advantage.

read more...»

Organisational Culture: Skilling May Soon Not be the Smartest Guy in Prison

Students attending our BUSS4 exam coaching workshops on Organisational Culture will be familiar with Jeff Skilling - the former CEO of Enron which collapsed so spectacularly over a decade ago.

The Enron collapse was closely linked to a strong, through ultimately toxic organisational culture that developed at Enron, which was an online energy trading business that rose quickly to become the 7th most valuable firm in the US.

The culture at Enron, described so powerfully in the film The Smartest Guys in the Room (and Broadway play of the same name) was a tough culture - a VERY tough culture. Students may recall the infamous policy of "rank and yank" in which 15% of Enron staff were dismissed each year as a result of Jeff Skilling's PRC (Performance Review Committee).

Skilling rose to the position of CEO in 2001 only to abruptly resign six months later. Soon after that, Enron collapsed in one of the most notorious corporate scandals of all time.

Jeff Skilling was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment back in May 2006 after he was found guilty on 19 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors. 

However, it now looks likely that Skilling will end up serving only 10-11 years of his sentence.  The news clip below explains why in more detail as does this news article from the BBC.

read more...»

Investing in Workforce Skills and Culture - the University of John Lewis

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I've become increasingly convinced from recent discussions with major accountancy firms and other major employers  that workplace learning is going to challenge the preeminence of universities and colleges when it comes to obtaining higher level qualifications. The emergence of some industrial-strength Higher Apprenticeship programmes recently is a sign of that. And so to is the news that John Lewis Partnership is to extend its programme of workplace learning to offer Level 6 (university degree level) qualifications for some of its management.

This story would provide the basis for some excellent analysis by students exploring how and why John Lewis Partnership has decided to extend its internal training programmes.

Some clues can be found in extracts from the JLP press release: for example;

"Our partners give us our competitive edge, and if we want them to stay with us for the long term, we need to make sure that they have the right skills to meet the challenges we face in an evolving retail environment."

The so-called "University of John Lewis" will also offer a number of other development initiatives through its ‘skills programme’, which will include training in product knowledge, line management and leadership. read more...»

Ethics, supply chains and consumer responsibility

The horrific Bangladesh factory disaster has highlighted a number of business issues and proved a stark reminder of the global effects our purchasing decisions may or may not have on people halfway around the world. Tom White has already put up a blog with some initial thoughts; I thought I’d pose some further questions and examine some of the issues raised in that post.

A great starting point would be to listen to the ever-reliable Business Daily, from the BBC World Service. Their programme In the Balance invites guests to debate a topical business issue, and this week, the Rana Plaza disaster was under discussion.

One of the first questions to ask is to examine the extent to which firms which are supplied by such factories are responsible. There were more immediate causes, of course, such as the owner’s actions and the culpability of local regulation and enforcement (or lack of). But this is not the first time there have been such disasters, nor are the poor conditions in such factories surprising. So is it right that chains such as Primark continue to use such suppliers? Isn’t it their fault, with their demands for low prices and increased flexibility to meet the needs of the fast fashion market? Do they have a responsibility to ensure fair and safe working practices in factories they don’t own and which they are merely customers of? A lot of people would argue that yes, they do. But isn’t that the same as arguing we as consumers should audit the supply chains of the shops which we buy from? Primark is as much a customer as we are.




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Strategy: Kazou Hirai and the Forgone Bonuses

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

For Sony's CEO Kazou Hirai - a promise is a promise. 

Back in April 2012, when Kazou Hirai took over as CEO from Sir Howard Stringer, he pledged to restore Sony's troubled Consumer Electronics division to profitability within one year. 

In a significant programme of retrenchment, Sony has shed over 10,000 jobs (about 6% of the workforce), sold off major property assets and substantially cut production at the heavily loss-making Sony Television business (which is a significant part of the Consumer Electronics division). The result is expected to be Sony's first corporate profit for five years when it reports final result for the year to 31 March 2013 in May. However, the Consumer Electronics division remains unprofitable - Sony has not met its objective.

The reaction by Hirai? It is reported that forty of Sony’s top executives, including Hirai, are to give up bonuses worth between 30 and 50 per cent of their pay. The decision will save Sony around $10m, which is not particularly significant in financial terms.

read more...»

BUSS4 - Want Good Analysis? Think How & Why?

Monday, April 29, 2013

How & Why. These are the two important words for students preparing for BUSS4 and as they practice their essay technique.

So, why is that? And how can they be used?

The source of their importance lies in the skill of analysis…

read more...»

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TBBLE 2014 - Teaching & Learning Resources for Business Studies

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