Using case studies to support the delivery of Business and Management is essential as it allows students to see how the theories taught in the classroom are applied in the operations of real businesses.
There are two main types of case study that complement the IB programme. The first is a detailed analysis of the formation and timeline of an organisation that provides strategic options for future growth. This type of case mirrors the pre-seen case study, which is the focus of paper 1. In the new programme, such a case study should, where possible, incorporate the six business concepts (CUEGIS) included in the guide: change, culture, ethics, globalisation, innovation and strategy. To allow this, the organisation selected is likely to be a multinational – and one that is subject to some significant change or event that will require it to plan, or react to, substantial change. Decision-making and evaluation will be core of any questions or assignments set for your students on this case.
The second type of case study is much more focused on a contemporary event and is used to support a specific unit or topic. For example, the proposed merger of Kraft and Heinz, or the acquisition of the BG Group by Royal Dutch Shell provide examples of external growth, and resources for teaching topics, such as corporate culture, economies of scale and organisational structures.
The problem, however, is finding case studies that are at the appropriate level for BM students and ones which offer the depth required for suitable and detailed analysis and evaluation. In reality, few such sources exist. Those cases developed online are unlikely to be in the format required, or are focused on national aspects, such as the UK businesscasestudies, and those in textbooks are likely to be out of date. This means that often the best option for teachers is to write cases themselves, or to challenge their students to develop them – either individually or in groups. This requires the selection of appropriate websites or source materials, of which there are potentially millions. A good starting point are blogs or news media sites, such as the business sections of the BBC, the Guardian, Forbes, New York Times, Harvard Business Review or All Africa. Alternatively, students can be shown directory sites that contain links to magazines and newspapers in every continent, such as world-newspapers or to news aggregators, such as the superb newsmap. At this point, students are faced with the same issues and problems as they find when asked to research organisations for the internal assessment or extended essay – those of selection and recognising sources that are both credible and reliable. Additional support on these issues should be offered, including the ‘about‘ link on a web page to discover more about the author and/or organisation.
One of the key skills, therefore, that teachers need to develop with students is the ability to conduct an advanced Google search to find suitable articles, rather than selecting the first 3 articles in a search that has produced several million results! It is surprising how few students are able to search effectively using the refined tools available on Google.
Advanced Google Search
The advanced searching layout on Google changes regularly. At present, Google search tools are accessed through the widget that looks like a gear cog in the top right of the screen. Alternatively, the advanced search access page can be accessed directly using the link: www.google.com/advanced_search
Note that the advanced search cog only appears when a search has been conducted for something and results obtained. When the cog is selected, the following dropdown list appears:
Select ‘Advanced search’ and a series of search filters appear that will help your students to narrow their search. For example, they can select articles that:
- contain an exact word or phrase
- exclude words
- have appeared in the last 24 hours for the most up-to-date information
- are in a PowerPoint format
To find out more about how using these advanced tools, students can select ‘Search help’ from the list and follow the instructions.
The following video provides a useful summary of Google advanced searching.
All the advanced search essentials, can be now found along the top of the page in ‘more’ and ‘search tools’.
If you click on ‘More’, the following list appears:
Select ‘Search tools’ and a second line of dropdown menus appear:
The news tab will only show articles from media sites and the images button is useful for jazzing up a presentation. Advanced search is also available for images. The following video explores the image search tools.