Case studies are an increasingly popular form of teaching and have an important role in developing skills and knowledge in students; bridging the gap between theory and practice. Case studies have always been central to Business Management with the pre-seen case study being the focus for Paper 1. However, their importance has grown further with the new syllabus and assessment. Paper 2, Section C, now requires students to use case studies as a vehicle for applying theoretical concepts learned in the classroom to real life situations.
To help students develop a deeper, more holistic and more integrated understanding of business management in a global context, six concepts have been identified as underpinning the course and will form the basis of a Section C question on Paper 2 for both higher and standard level students.
- Change, reflecting the greater speed with which decisions need to be made and circumstances change in the operating environment of most businesses
- Culture, appreciating that businesses need to align a broad spectrum of individual, collective and societal goals
- Ethics, emphasizing the fact that the ethical considerations businesses face are substantial and near all-pervasive, instead of being peripheral and isolatable
- Globalization, reflecting the interconnected patterns of production and consumption shaped by businesses and affecting them
- Innovation, emphasizing the need for businesses to renew themselves in the competitive, technologically advanced market place with increasingly sophisticated customers
- Strategy, reflecting the importance of holistic long-term planning in an operating environment with the above attributes
The difficulty for students preparing for Paper 2 section C is the large number of possible combinations of concepts and business functions that a question may examine. The following are examples of possible questions taken from the teacher support materials on the OCC:
- With reference to one organisation that you have studied, discuss the importance of innovation and of ethics in marketing.
- With reference to one or two organisations that you have studied, discuss how marketing strategies may vary in two cultures that you are familiar with.
- With reference to one organization that you have studied, examine what changes globalization brings about in the management of human resource
- With reference to one organization you have studied, compare and contrast the importance of innovation and ethics for Research and Development (R&D).
- With reference to one or two organizations that you have studied, evaluate different strategies businesses can adopt to respond to issues of globalization
It is essential, therefore, that case studies selected by your student over the duration of the course offer the opportunity to select a range of issues that can exemplify the concepts required and then be applied to a business function, such as Marketing or HRM. This suggests that case studies related to multinational corporations may be preferable, because they offer the depth and breadth to support an answer across several concepts and business functions. Students must:
- identify the context and issues raised by the case study or example
- explain how these issues relate to different areas of the syllabus and the six concepts
- apply the business tools, techniques and theories that might be appropriate for understanding the issues raised in the case study or example
- identify solutions to the issues, discuss these, and if appropriate, formulate recommendations.