To analyse the company’s strategic business context, is it on the correct path to utilise analysis tools such as PESTEL or SWOT to determine its context?
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Questions on process:
1. When can I submit my essay?
We aim to have the turnitin submission tab open by the end of term (December 9th).
2. Is there a deadline to ask questions?
Yes – Friday, December 9th. This is the last day before submission of the essay to ask us questions about the essay – either by email, via the Moodle forum, or in person.
3. How will questions be answered?
All questions you ask us by email or via the Moodle discussion forum will be answered on the Moodle discussion forum. Therefore, the Moodle forum will be a repository of information for all students to refer to while writing their essays. We encourage students to make full use of the information in this document and on the Moodle forum before emailing new questions, as well as over the time up until the submission of their essays.
4. Will each posting on the Moodle forum automatically be emailed to all students on the course?
No. It is therefore your responsibility to look at all the information on the Moodle Forum as you need to. Subscription is optional, but we would recommend subscribing to the forum posts (daily digests are an option – one email at the end of the day).
5. When will we get our marks?
Within the 4 week deadline specified by the school for large courses, bearing in mind that days where the college is closed over Christmas and New Year are not part of the 4 week marking window.
6. Can I use graphics (figures, diagrams, graphs, tables etc.) in my essay?
Yes. Sometimes a small number of well-focused graphics can help make a point much more effectively. However, be careful not to overdo it as too many graphics can detract from the flow of your argument.
7. If I am to repurpose a graph from our group report (that I individually found and adapted) could this be construed as plagiarism?
Re-using a graph is possible, but to avoid any misconceptions make it clear by stating "as discussed" or "as referred to in the group report"... and by acknowledging the source accordingly.
Re-using paragraphs is a different matter and should not be done.
Questions on content:
8. Within the marketing corporate function, can I focus on the company’s involvement in cause-related marketing (CRM) as a responsible management challenge?
No. Focusing on CRM would not be a good or effective way to address the essay question. However CRM could be one recommendation you reach (although you would need to adequately justify this) after you first identify & discuss the challenge(s) to marketing management to which CRM is (part) of the solution.
9. For a holding company like XYZ, can I choose one subsidiary company or division and focus on that?
Yes, as long as you explain and convincingly justify your choice.
10. Are the major responsible management challenges the same as the megatrends?
No. The megatrends can give rise to major challenges and constrain solutions to these challenges.
11. Can we use the other functions covered on the course?
The other topics covered in the lectures include strategy, organisational design/structure, international business and entrepreneurship. We do not regard these as the major traditional functions, rather they help the traditional functions to operate more or less effectively. They were therefore not included as options in the assignment question. They could, however, constitute part of the existing systems, strategic aspirations, and/or resource implications and might constitute a particular constraint or challenge.
12. What do you mean by ‘a responsible management challenge’; how focused does this have to be?
We recognize that many, if not most, responsible management challenges will have implications for several management functions at the same time. One approach you could take in your essay is to choose one such broad responsible management challenge, and then focus on this broad challenge in the way it might be considered an issue or problem to be addressed most appropriately through the specific corporate function of your choice. Alternatively, you could identify a responsible management challenge that clearly and more narrowly falls within the remit of one of the corporate functions more than it falls within the perspective of others.
13. Is it possible to cover a past challenge or does it have to be in the future?
The assignment question uses present tense: "... analyse one major responsible management challenge the company faces..." and future tense "... and make recommendations for how the company should address this challenge."
A past challenge could only be made relevant if it was still a major causal factor in a current challenge that needs addressing. It is up to you to justify how you have answered this specific part, but the justification needs to be plausible.
14. How many recommendations should I make?
Part of the essay question asks you to make recommendations and indicate/justify how these recommendations are practicable and realistic. The marking criteria show that 45% of the marks for the essay overall are linked to the recommendations.
In deciding how many recommendations to make, bear in mind the law of diminishing returns and the word limit for the essay. To score high marks for any one recommendation you make is likely to require you to go into a reasonable amount of depth. So within the word limit, if you make too many recommendations you are unlikely to have the space to write a high quality explanation and justification for each recommendation so are making it difficult for yourself to achieve a high mark. Conversely, the law of diminishing returns would indicate that once you write sufficient to score a high mark for one recommendation, extra space devoted to making this recommendation even stronger is likely to score fewer marks than the same amount of space devoted to discussing another recommendation.
It has to be your choice about how many recommendations you feel is appropriate. However I suspect for most essays that you should be aiming for at least two recommendations (after all, the questions does ask for `recommendations` not just one `recommendation`), while four or more recommendations is likely to leave you with insufficient space to develop each recommendation, and the links between them, in much depth.
15. I am having trouble with identifying an appropriate challenge as the one I feel is most relevant to company A and its Function G would be X.
It is not for us to suggest if your choice of responsible management challenge is appropriate or not. It all boils down to substantive evidence and justification.
16. Is XYZ too vague of a challenge to overcome?
This depends on your evidence and justification - it should not be too vague, equally it should not be too narrow.
17. To analyse the company’s strategic business context, is it on the correct path to utilise analysis tools such as PESTEL or SWOT to determine its context?
It is not crucial to use these frameworks as what is important is to fully address the question - space devoted to frameworks might detract from the focus and core of the assignment - please make sure you consult the FAQ and Guidance document posted in this forum. You should focus on analysing the challenge and making recommendations.
18. Do we have to make recommendations across the chosen function e.g. HRM, or do we only have to use the chosen function to analyse the company’s strategic context and that`s it?
As with most essay questions in the final year, there are a variety of approaches you could take, and it is up to you to decide how best to answer the question in light of the information you have about the company and its context. So we can only make comments in response to your questions rather than provide definitive answers.
As you have to use your chosen function to analyse the company`s business context and to address a major responsible management challenge within this context, it is likely that a good answer will proceed to make focused recommendations also within this context from the perspective of the chosen business function.
19. The task asks us to analyse one major responsible management challenge the company faces within its strategic business context. What exactly is meant by strategic business context? In the lectures we have focused mainly on the responsible management context (made of Actors, drivers, Subjects and Inhibitors and affected by the megatrends we have discussed in the previous essay). Does this imply that we need to consider the responsible management context as the main context in which we are to find a challenge for our case company? Or do we need to consider a broader business context?
There is likely to be a reasonable degree of overlap between the strategic business context and the responsible management context. However, the strategic business context is usually broader than the strategic-level responsible management context, and it is feasible that some of a company`s responsible management context might be more relevant at an operational than strategic level. As the question asks you `to analyse one major responsible management challenge the company faces’ and then to “analyse the company’s strategic business context and make recommendations for how the company should address the responsible management challenge`, if you consider it relevant (and can properly justify this) then it could be the case that some elements of the company`s strategic business context that are outside its responsible management context might be helpful in your analysis.
20. When making recommendations suggesting how a company could tackle a particular challenge, if there is no information given on their website explaining whether this is already adopted, would we still be able to include it as a valid suggestion? As for example, referring to the HRM aspect, some employee practices can be very specific and are not in this case on the company website. Therefore, there is no way of knowing whether one of my suggestions is a practice that is already adopted.
We suspect there will be a lot of suggestions that are made in essays where there is no information in the public domain about whether the company has already adopted the policy. We do not see this as a problem so long you can provide a high quality justification for why the suggested solution is reasonable and appropriate. Within this, you need to bear in mind the marks available for providing evidence in your essay of the relevant strategic aspirations and resource constraints faced by the company.
21. Can reputation of the company can be a major responsible management challenge in a HRM perspective? I was thinking about explaining that employees’ non-responsible behaviour (corruption…) have tainted my
company’s reputation. Thus, it has led to consumer’s boycott of the brand, loss of sales and profit…
We can see how preventing corruption can be a responsible management challenge from an HRM perspective, and how corruption can damage reputation. However, we would say that challenging/stopping corruption is the challenge, and we struggle to see how ‘reputation’ is the HRM challenge. A broader challenge could be maintaining or enhancing the company`s reputation, but this is a pretty broad challenge that the more focused HRM challenge of tackling corruption feeds into. Greater focus enables you to answer in greater depth and is likely to have potential for higher marks.
22. My chosen function is Business Information System and I wonder if `carbon emission control` is a challenge or not for my chosen company?
As the marking guide indicates marks are awarded for the quality of evidence you provide to demonstrate that the challenge you have selected is a major management challenge, and for the quality of your argument, analysis and reasoning that lead to your assessment of how this major management challenge impacts upon the company. It is therefore not appropriate for us to give a definitive answer regarding what would be an appropriate challenge for you to choose, as this depends on the quality of evidence, argument, analysis and reasoning you include in your essay to justify why this is a major management challenge.
We’re sorry we can`t be more specific, but at the level of third year assignments (and in the corporate world more generally), there is often not a definitive answer to major problems and questions - it is a matter of judgement. We are seeking to help and encourage you to develop the skills and judgement you will need in the rest of your career to handle uncertainty in the many situations you will face throughout life.