There are many favourable aspects of the new BM programme, due for first teaching in September; not least the introduction of a concept based learning. However, it is slightly disappointing that the programme, with a shelf life of 7 years, makes limited references to some potentially transformational changes in the external environment. In particular:

  • The social media
  • Nanotechnology
  • 3D printing
  • The ‘internet of things’
  • Big data

Given the rate of technological change, it is understandable that a syllabus cannot include every aspect of business activity, but these 5 developments (among others) are set to revolutionise the business landscape. There are already university courses on these topics and knowledge of, and related skills in, these areas will be of significant interest to potential employers. The new programme guide does include references to some of these changes, but not particularly at higher skill levels and so it may be necessary for teachers to provide additional opportunities for students to consider them in the depth that they warrant, or be creative in how they dovetail them into the delivery of the syllabus. Of course, a syllabus in itself does not preclude teachers from exploring additional topics, if there is adequate teaching time available; it simply means that they will not be examined.

Social media: firms are increasingly using social media as a significant part of the recruitment process. Sites such as LinkedIn, and Twitter and Facebook groups, are becoming major recruitment tools. It is possible to suggest that the core content in unit 2.1 (Functions and evolution of human resource management) can be interpreted as exploring this topic, as there is reference to ‘innovation’, but there is no certainty that examiners will apply this interpretation when setting papers, especially as there is no overt reference to social media in the unit pre-amble. If they do, questions may be set using A03 command terms, such as discuss and examine.

How innovation, ethical considerations and cultural differences may influence human resource practices and strategies in an organization: A03

Similarly, social media is already a significant marketing tool, with its importance growing rapidly in the short to medium term. Again, there is a potential reference to this in the syllabus content for marketing, if the term ‘innovation’ is taken to include the social media:

4.1 How innovation, ethical considerations and cultural differences may influence marketing practices and strategies in an organization: A03

There is an overt reference to social media in unit 4.5 on promotion (but not in ‘place’) and directly to e-commerce in unit 4.8. However, the coverage of e-commerce is only at A01 and A02 level, except for evaluating the costs and benefits of e-commerce to firms and consumers (A03).

Again, the pre-amble to the marketing unit has no specific reference to social media and there is no overt inclusion of the social media in the sections on market research, except that social media can be considered as a tool for creating surveys or focus groups.

Innovation, such as nanotechnology, 3D printing and the internet of things  and the growing importance of Big Data is harder to place directly in the syllabus. Unit 5 on operations management includes innovation in unit 5.6 on research and development, but this is for HL only. There is nothing specific in production methods on new technologies, nor direct references in the unit pre-amble.

Opportunities for including new technologies

The six concepts, which provide lenses for syllabus coverage, do offer opportunities for exploring the impact of social media and new technologies through ‘change’, ‘globalization’ and ‘innovation’ and can form the focus of a case study approach. The marks available in examinations for the case studies and concepts is relatively low, however, with only 20 marks available on Paper 2 section C. Again, it is possible that the pre-seen case study could be used as a vehicle for consideration of new technologies and innovations, but this will be subject to the examiners including them, and their selection of topics as stimulus materials.

Extended essays and internal assessment

The extended essay and internal assessments at HL and SL, offer possible vehicles for exploring new business technologies and innovations, but teachers may need to encourage students to focus on innovation and change, within their investigation. Of course, whether this choice is appropriate will depend on the interests, and competencies, of each individual student.

It is possible that there will be incremental inclusion of new technologies and innovation as the programme develops and examiners find more stimulus materials that refer to recent business and social innovations; this has certainly been the case in previous programmes. However, as teachers, we should take a creative and proactive approach to broadening our student horizons.