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Business Internal Analysis

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Business and Management

Internal assessment details—SL

Written commentary

Weighting: 25%

 

Introduction

The SL internal assessment is a written commentary that allows students to demonstrate the application of business management tools, techniques and theories to a business issue or problem.

Requirements

SL students are required to:

  • select a real business issue or problem for their written commentary that must relate to the SL syllabus.
  • refer directly to a single business organization, but may consider industry-wide issues that impact on that organization.
  • base their written commentary on secondary research, selected for its suitability, depth and breadth. Primary research may be used as support.
  • provide a title for the commentary that, to give focus and direction, must be framed as a question.
  • produce a written commentary that does not exceed 1,500 words.
  • attach to the commentary three to five supporting documents from which the majority of the information for the commentary has been obtained.
  • fully reference all supporting documents and additional sources and include them in a bibliography.

Role of teacher’s guidance

With the teacher’s support, students should choose an issue or problem for investigation, and develop a title in the form of a question.

The teacher should approve the students’ questions before work is started, to ensure that they are suitable for investigation and allow access to all levels of the assessment criteria. It is highly advisable that every student is supplied with a copy of the assessment criteria.

The teacher should also guide students in the selection of appropriate supporting documents.

Throughout the internal assessment process, students and the teacher should engage in dialogue supportive of the students’ work. The teacher should comment on students’ work plans and first draft of the commentary as part of the learning process.

If more than one student chooses the same organization for their research, it is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that the written commentaries reflect the students’ own individual research, interpretation and analysis.

If a student also writes an extended essay in business management, it is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that students do not build their internal assessment and extended essay in business management on the same syllabus content. Also, given different requirements and assessment criteria, students should choose different organizations for these different tasks.

 

Examples of appropriate questions

 

Examples of appropriate questions for the written commentary might be:

  • “Can airline X successfully target segment Y?” The commentary could then examine business management topics such as market segmentation, consumer profiling, promotion, and measure of financial success.
  • “Should company Y outsource its manufacturing?” The commentary could then examine areas within business management such as operations management and human resource management.

Supporting documents

The selection of supporting documents is very important. To achieve the highest levels of each assessment criterion, it is strongly recommended that the supporting documents present a range of ideas and views. For example, the selection of three to five documents published by a single company, or three to five surveys of similar populations, would not provide balance or objectivity.

The supporting documents must be of a contemporary nature and written within a maximum of three years prior to the submission of the written commentary to the IB. Submission of the written commentary occurs in April or November of the final year of the course, depending on the examination session of the school.

A maximum of one of the supporting documents may be a transcript of video/audio material. The transcript must summarize the essential points of the video/audio file used for the purposes of the commentary. Only video/audio material published by a reliable organization (such as the business organization itself, an organization commissioned by the business or an NGO) should be used. Particular attention needs to be paid to referencing the original video/audio file so that this may be traced.

The commentary must be based on secondary sources and may include primary data.

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • articles from the local, national or international press
  • business accounts
  • business plans
  • extracts from company websites
  • transcripts of a relevant audio-visual file
  • financial reports
  • government and other statistics
  • journal publications
  • market research surveys
  • mission statements
  • web-based surveys.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • responses to questionnaires (students should include a blank copy of the questionnaire and a tally/ summary of results)
  • results of surveys
  • transcripts of interviews and discussions with focus groups.

Students must select their own supporting documents, which must not be provided to the student by the teacher.

Students must highlight the parts of each supporting document that relate directly to their commentary. Any highlighted parts of supporting documents that are not in the language for which the student is registered must be translated.

Students should label each supporting document clearly, such as “Supporting document 1”, “Supporting document 2” and so on. This will help with referencing in the commentary.

It is expected that students will include in-text citations/references of the supporting documents and a bibliography, which should be formatted in an appropriate way.

Any additional sources such as textbooks and class notes must be referenced but will not be accepted as supporting documents.

 

Written commentary

 

Although there is no required format for the written commentary, it should nonetheless be a structured piece of well-presented writing. An introduction that sets the scene, presentation, analysis and discussion of findings, and a conclusion that answers the commentary question provides an effective structure for the commentary. Good presentation additionally requires a title page, an accurate table of contents page, appropriate headings and sub-headings, consistent referencing, a complete bibliography and numbered pages.

The introduction should briefly demonstrate some background information about the business organization, to give a clear outline of the issue or problem under investigation and to explain the methodology used to investigate this issue or problem.

In the body of the commentary, findings from the supporting documents should be presented and analysed with the help of relevant business tools, techniques and theories. The findings should also be interpreted: what main themes emerge from the analysis of the supporting documents, and why and how are they helpful (or not) to answering the commentary question? An evaluative approach to this discussion of findings should be pursued: for example, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the various positions on the issue or problem and what are their implications?

In the conclusion, the commentary question should be explicitly answered. The conclusion should not introduce facts or arguments that have not been discussed in previous sections of the commentary. Rather, it is good practice to include those aspects of the commentary question that have not been fully answered in the commentary or that might need further investigation in order to be judged more effectively.

For presentation of references and bibliography, please see the information on acknowledging the ideas and work of another person in the “The Diploma Programme” section of this subject guide.

 

Word count

 

The written commentary must not exceed 1,500 words. A word count must be included as part of the commentary. If the word limit is exceeded, the teacher’s assessment must be based on the first 1,500 words.

Note: Moderators will not read beyond 1,500 words for the commentary.

The following are not included in the word count:

  • acknowledgments
  • contents page
  • tables of statistical data
  • diagrams or figures
  • equations, formulae and calculations
  • citations (which, if used, must be in the body of the commentary)
  • references (which, if used, must be in the footnotes/endnotes)

Please note that footnotes/endnotes may be used for references only. Definitions of business management terms and quotations, if used, must be in the body of the work and are included in the word count. Please note that citation is a shorthand method of making a reference in the body of the commentary, which is then linked to the full reference in the bibliography.

Suggested word count:

  • Introduction:                                                       200 words
  • Procedure or Method:                                      200 words
  • Main results & Findings:                                  200 words
  • Analysis and evaluation:                                  700 words
  • Conclusion:                                                          200 words

Internal assessment criteria—SL

The SL business management written commentary is assessed against seven criteria that are related to the assessment objectives for the business management course.

When the work to be assessed has been read, the descriptors for each criterion should be studied until a descriptor is reached that most appropriately describes the achievement level. If a piece of work seems to fall between two descriptors, both descriptors should be read again and the one that more appropriately describes the student’s work chosen.

There are seven assessment criteria for the written commentary.

  • Criterion A: Supporting documents
  • Criterion B: Choice and application of business tools, techniques and theories
  • Criterion C: Choice and analysis of data and integration of ideas
  • Criterion D: Conclusions
  • Criterion E: Evaluation
  • Criterion F: Structure
  • Criterion G: Presentation

Criterion A: Supporting documents

This criterion assesses the extent to which the student selects three to five relevant supporting documents that address the issue or problem selected for commentary in appropriate depth and breadth. The criterion also assesses whether the student’s choice and presentation of the supporting documents meets formal requirements.

Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 There are only one or two, or more than five, supporting documents, or they are of marginal relevance.
2 The supporting documents are generally relevant but some lack depth, or they were published more than three years prior to the submission of the IA to the IB, or they are not all translated in the language of submission.
3 The supporting documents are relevant and sufficiently in-depth.
4 The supporting documents are relevant, sufficiently in-depth and provide a range of ideas and views.

 

Criterion B: Choice and application of tools, techniques and theories

This criterion assesses the extent to which the student chooses business management tools, techniques and theories that are relevant to the issue or problem and applies these so that a greater insight into the situation of the organization ensues.

Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 There is a limited selection of business management tools, techniques and theories, and these are not applied.
2 There is a limited selection of business management tools, techniques and theories, and these are superficially applied.
3 There is an appropriate selection of business management tools, techniques and theories, but these are superficially applied.
4 There is an appropriate selection of business management tools, techniques and theories, and these are suitably applied.
5 There is an appropriate selection of business management tools, techniques and theories, and these are skillfully applied.

 

Criterion C: Choice and analysis of data and integration of ideas

This criterion assesses the extent to which the student uses data from the supporting documents effectively in order to understand and explain the issue or problem and is able to integrate ideas coherently.

Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 There is a limited selection of data from the supporting documents but no analysis.
2 There is a limited selection of data from the supporting documents with superficial analysis.
3 There is an appropriate selection of data from the supporting documents with satisfactory analysis.
4 There is an appropriate selection of data from the supporting documents with good analysis and some integration of ideas.
5 There is an appropriate selection of data from the supporting documents with skillful analysis and a coherent integration of ideas.

Criterion D: Conclusions

This criterion assesses the extent to which the student is able to draw relevant conclusions based on the analysis of the supporting documents and answer the commentary question.

Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 Conclusions are inconsistent with the evidence presented, or conclusions are superficial.
2 Some conclusions are consistent with the evidence presented.
3 Conclusions are consistent with the evidence presented and explicitly answer the commentary question.

 

Criterion E: Evaluation

This criterion assesses the extent to which the student evaluates his or her arguments and makes judgments that are well substantiated.

Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 There is limited evidence of evaluation.
2 There is evidence of evaluation, and some judgments are substantiated.
3 There is evidence of evaluation, and judgments are substantiated.
4 There is thorough evidence of evaluation, and judgments are well substantiated.

Criterion F: Structure

This criterion assesses the extent to which the student organizes his or her ideas into a structured commentary with an argument that is easy to follow.

Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 Limited structure.
2 Appropriate structure.

 

Criterion G: Presentation

This criterion assesses the extent to which the student presents the written commentary well. This involves a title page, an accurate table of contents, appropriate headings and sub-headings, consistent referencing, a complete bibliography and numbered pages.

Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 One or more of the above elements of a well presented commentary is missing.
2 All of the above elements of a well presented commentary are included.

 

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