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Everything you need to know about IB Business Management Extended Essay

Everything you need to know about IB Business Management Extended Essay

Business Management Extended Essay

The Extended Essay is a core element of the IB Diploma Programme. It provides students with an opportunity to carry out in-depth research in an area of personal interest. It required around 40 hours of work by the student. The formal requirements of the Extended Essay, such as the formulation of an appropriate research question, writing the essay within the 4,000 word limit, and including proper citation and referencing throughout the essay. 500 words for the RPPF (Reflections on Planning and Progress Form). There are three compulsory reflection sessions, ending with a viva voce. The business management extended essay must be firmly based on accepted Business Management theory. It required application of theory, tools and techniques to produce a coherent and structured essay. It involves broad and detailed research using a range of secondary sources. 

Formulating an Extended Essay Title and Research Question

All extended essays require both a title and a research question. The title should be a clear and focused summative statement that provides the reader with an indication of the research topic. The research question must be phrased as a probing question, i.e. one that demands inquiry and is worthy of investigation. The research question should allow students to show and use a variety of analytical tools, theories and techniques. This is often supported by statistical data to assist discussion and evaluation. 

When selecting your topic and research question, keep the following in mind: 

  1. Choose a subject and topic that interests you 
  2. Construct a research question that is worth of study and has academic rigour 
  3. Ensure there are sufficient secondary resources and materials to address the research question. 
  4. Ensure the topic is neither too narrow nor too broad 

Tips for writing Business Management Extended Essay 

1) Choose a topic which interested and engages you 

Read the BM syllabus and identify those areas which interest you most. For example, consider how your interests or hobbies in real life can be linked to business management. Read about the topic area and try to find relevant information to support your work. 

2) Understand the EE requirements 

There are four important documents you need to read before starting your extended essay – The general assessment criteria, subject specific assessment criteria, examiner report, and an example of an excellent A graded business management extended essay. As this will show clearly what needs to be done to score high. 

3) Create a research question and write an outline 

The research question can be forward looking. Your outline, of around 400 words in length, should include the possible research question. Explain why you are interested in this topic and why it is important to study as a BM student. 

4) “Choosing” a supervisor 

The supervisor will be someone who teaches you. By preparing a concise outline and having a reasonable understanding of the EE will encourage the supervisor that your EE journey will be successful. The supervisor can help focus the research question more clearly if need be. All students need to impress supervisors that they will work diligently to undertake background reading on relevant theories and will be fully committed to the EE process.

5) The EE is not an Internal Assessment 

The Higher Level Business Management IA is based on primary research. An A grade for the Extended Essay in Business Management can be awarded without doing any primary research. Both IA and EE should include tools with appropriate explanation of the content or their significance. 

As the EE is an academic piece of work, the examiner will positively mark those who go beyond what is on the syllabus, such as Porter’s Five Forces or Blue Ocean Strategy. Another approach by astute students is to relate their essay through all the CUEGIS concepts. The EE research question for most students should require analysis and evaluation of a strategic issue for an organisation which can be linked  to these key concepts. 

Extended Essay Internal Assessment 
Essay format, subheadings allowed  Report format, with research proposal 
Secondary focused  Primary focused, secondary to support
Can be backward looking (must be analytical and evaluative)  Based on a current real-life situation; recommendations must be made 
Word Count – 4000 max Word Count – 2700 max 
Demonstrates the appropriate use and application of selected Business Management tools, concepts and theories

6) Achieving the A grade

The EE requires a lot of background reading as its success depends on secondary research.  Schools will provide students with a sufficient time frame to conduct the necessary reading of academic journals and sources. Start reading as soon as your supervisor has agreed to the research question. Identify possible secondary sources which provide balance.

The role of the school librarian is especially important as they show students how to use online databases, how to cite and reference appropriately. Do not rely on the Internet for all your sources. 

7) Analyse and Evaluate 

Assessment Criterion C is titled “Critical Thinking” and is marked out of 12. Many students tend to describe rather than analyse and evaluate. To show evidence of critical thinking, students should use phrases like “In the short (or long) term…” and “the most significant factor is… because…”. This enables you to prioritise issues which you think are most important in addressing the research question. For all essays, the arguments should be balanced (for and against) and allow the research question to be answered at the end in a considered way.

8) Meet deadlines 

Schools create deadlines for students’ own good! Although the EE takes about 6 to 8 months to complete, by the time students identify a question and do the final reflection (viva voce), this process could be closer to one year. Students should set aside time between deadlines so they can clearly think through what needs to be completed and then progress with the writing process.

Use the summer holidays wisely. Students may get up to 2 months break. Dedicate time spread over several weeks to re-read your EE and to make edits. This will help you to make steady progress and meet the EE deadlines in the following academic year.

9) Presentation and Referencing 

Too often, the issue is not the quality of the content of the essay, but marks are lost because of poor presentation and referencing. Assessment Criteria D (Presentation) is worth 4 marks. 

The six required elements of the EE: 

Title Page 

  • Title of the essay 
  • Research Question 
  • Subject (i.e. Business Management) 
  • Word Count 
  • Candidate Code 

Contents Page 


Body of the essay 


References and Bibliography

Format for the EE includes: 

  • Size 12 font, Arial or Times New Roman recommended 
  • Double Spacing 
  • Page numbering 
  • File size no larger than 10MB

The Word Count includes: 

  • Introduction 
  • Main Body 
  • Conclusion 
  • Quotations 
  • Footnotes 

Clearly reference using a recognized system, such as APA or MLA.  As the EE is based on secondary research, ensure you cite and referencing throughout the essay.If you use diagrams, ensure these are labelled clearly and make sure you explain them in the context of your research question. 

10) Reflect, Reflect, Reflect 

Reflections are worth 6 marks. There are three formal reflection sessions held between the EE supervisor and students:

  • The first reflection happens during the beginning stages of the EE, where the student describes how they will approach the essay (methodology) and possible concerns.
  • The interim reflection is analytical and happens around the middle of the EE process. Students comment on what they are doing well, where they are struggling and how they will address problems.
  • The final reflection, called the viva voce, is evaluative and takes place after the EE is completed. Students comment on the success of the essay and their learning journey.

In the reflection, give specific examples about the EE, rather than writing generally. Write about the focus of the research question in the first reflection, not your interest in BM or desire to use the EE as a pathway to studying BM at university. The total length of the three reflections is 500 words; the examiner will not read beyond this point.  Each of the three reflections should be around 160 words, perhaps a little more for the final reflection.

Note the following Key Points while writing the Extended Essay – 

The following are not included in the word limit: 

  • Contents Page 
  • Acknowledgements 
  • Charts, Diagrams, Annotated Illustrations 
  • Tables (of data, but not text or analysis) 
  • Calculations, Equations or Formulae 
  • References, Citations, Bibliography 
  • Footnotes or Endnotes 
  • Appendices 

The following style of presentation: 

  • Font Style – Times New Roman or Arial 
  • Font Size – 12 
  • Line Spacing – Double
  • Numbered Pages 

Cover Page should contain the following information: 

  • Subject – Business Management Extended Essay
  • Session – May 2023
  • Title 
  • Research Question 
  • Candidate Code 
  • Word Count 

Grade Boundaries:

Grade Marks (out of 34)
A 27 – 34 
B 21 – 26 
C 14 – 20
D 7 – 13
E 0 – 6 

Assessment Criteria:

Criterion Focus Marks
Criterion A – Focus and Method 
  • Topic 
  • Research Question 
  • Methodology 
6 marks 
Criterion B – Knowledge and Understanding 
  • Context 
  • Terminology 
  • Concepts
6 marks 
Criterion C – Critical Thinking 
  • Research 
  • Analysis 
  • Discussion 
  • Evaluation
12 marks 
Criterion D – Presentation 
  • Structure 
  • Layout 
4 marks 
Criterion E – Engagement 
  • Process 
  • Research Focus
  • Reflections 
6 marks

Criterion A – Focus and Method 

The research question is clearly stated and focused.

  • The research question is clear and addresses an issue of research that is appropriately connected to the discussion in the essay.

The methodology of the research is complete.

  • An appropriate range of relevant source(s) and/or method(s) has been selected in relation to the topic and research question.
  • There is evidence of effective and informed selection of sources and/or methods.

Criterion B – Knowledge and Understanding 

Knowledge and understanding are excellent.

  • The application of source materials is clearly relevant and appropriate to the research question.
  • Knowledge of the topic/discipline(s)/issue is clear and coherent and sources are used effectively and with understanding.

Use of terminology and concepts is good.

  • The use of subject-specific terminology and concepts is accurate and consistent, demonstrating effective knowledge and understanding.

Criterion C – Critical Thinking 

The research is excellent.

  • The research is appropriate to the research question and its application to support the argument is consistently relevant.

Analysis is excellent.

  • The research is analysed effectively and clearly focused on the research question; the inclusion of less relevant research does not significantly detract from the quality of the overall analysis.
  • Conclusions to individual points of analysis are effectively supported by the evidence.

Discussion / evaluation is excellent.

  • An effective and focused reasoned argument is developed from the research with a conclusion reflective of the evidence presented.
  • This reasoned argument is well structured and coherent; any minor inconsistencies do not hinder the strength of the overall argument or the final or summative conclusion.
  • The research has been critically evaluated.

Criterion D – Formal Presentation 

Presentation is good.

  • The structure of the essay clearly is appropriate in terms of the expected conventions for the topic, the argument and subject in which the essay is registered.
  • Layout considerations are present and applied correctly.
  • The structure and layout support the reading, understanding and evaluation of the extended essay.

Criterion E – Engagement

Engagement is excellent.

  • Reflections on decision-making and planning are evaluative and include reference to the student’s capacity to consider actions and ideas in response to challenges experienced in the research process.
  • These reflections communicate a high degree of intellectual and personal engagement with the research focus and process of research, demonstrating authenticity, intellectual initiative and / or creative approach in the student voice.

The Extended Essay incorporates all five ATL skills, which are essential at various stages of completing the EE. 

  1. Students should work closely with their supervisor, thus developing their own communication skills when discussing their ideas and reflections.
  2. This also provides students with opportunities to develop valuable social skills.
  3. The student’s self-management skills are needed to conduct the research and to complete the essay in an academic and independent way.
  4. To succeed in the EE, students must demonstrate their ability to think critically about the research, methodology, findings, and conclusions.
  5. The EE require students to carry out extensive secondary research, including the use of primary research where appropriate

Students have opportunities to demonstrate their level of engagement with the EE process. These ATL skills are life-long skills that students will use and develop well beyond the IB Diploma Programme.

Tools, Techniques and Theories for the Extended Essay 

  • 1.3 – Ansoff Matrix 
  • 1.3 – SWOT Analysis 
  • 1.4 – Stakeholders analysis
  • 1.5 – STEEPLE analysis
  • 1.7 – Decision Tree 
  • 1.7 – Fishbone Diagram 
  • 1.7 – Force Field Analysis 
  • 1.7 – Gantt Chart 
  • 2.4 – Motivation 
  • 2.5 – Organisational culture
  • 3.3 – Break-even Analysis 
  • 3.4 – Final Accounts 
  • 3.5 – Profitability and Liquidity Ratio Analysis 
  • 3.6 – Efficiency Ratio Analysis
  •  3.7 – Cash Flow Forecasts 
  • 3.8 – Investment Appraisal 
  • 3.9 – Budgets
  • 4.2 – Position Maps 
  • 4.3 – Sales Forecasting 
  • 4.5 – BCG Matrix 
  • 5.1 – The Triple Bottom Line 
  • 5.5 – Cost to Make vs. Cost to Buy 
  • 5.6 – Research and Development 

Tools, Techniques and Theories beyond the IB BM Syllabus 

  • Blue Ocean Strategy 
  • Porter’s Five Forces Analysis 
  • Strategic Drift Theory 
  • Porter’s Generic Strategies 
  • Thomas-Kilmann’s Conflict Instrument 
  • Kotter and Schlesinger’s Change Management model 
  • Greiner’s Growth Model 
  • Bowman’s Strategic Clock 
  • Charles Handy 

Research Question Examples – 

  1. Which promotional strategy has proved most effective in enabling Tata Coffee to gain market share in Mumbai in the past three years?
  2. To what extent has the product extension strategy of Apple for its Apple TV service helped the company to remain competitive in Hong Kong?
  3. How effective has McDonald’s franchise growth strategy been in improving its market share in Malaga, southern Spain?
  4. To what extent has Starbucks’ use of social media marketing (SMM) increased its brand awareness in Singapore?
  5. To what extent has Amazon’s acquisition of Souq.com contributed to its growth in Saudi Arabia?
  6. To what extent has McDonald’s Ronald McDonald House Charities philanthropy programme motivated the company’s workforce in Chicago, Illinois?
  7. To what extent has Nike’s above the line marketing strategies contributed to the company’s overall profitability?
  8. To what extent is Ryanair’s corporate success in the European low-cost airline industry attributed to its “no-frills” pricing strategy?

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