The Internal Assessment (IA) is a vital component of the IB Business Management course, providing students with the opportunity to apply business management tools and theories to a real organizational issue or problem. The 2024 syllabus introduces some key changes, emphasizing the use of a conceptual lens and requiring a maximum word count of 1,800. In this guide, we will walk you through the essential steps to excel in this new format.
Step 1: Understand the IA Requirements
Before diving into your IA, it’s essential to grasp the specific requirements set by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). Under the new syllabus, these requirements are consistent for both SL and HL students:
– The IA should be based on a real business or organization.
– You must choose a research question related to the business management concepts studied in your course
- Selecting a Real Business Issue
Choose a business issue or problem that is relevant to any part of the syllabus. Directly refer to a single business organization, but consider industry-wide issues that impact that organization.
- Formulating a Research Question
Craft a research question that can be either forward-looking or backward-looking. This question will be the cornerstone of your project.
Base your research on a combination of primary and/or secondary sources. Ensure that the chosen sources are suitable, deep, and broad in their coverage.
Attach three to five supporting documents that provide the majority of the information for your project. These documents should offer a range of ideas and views, ensuring balance and objectivity.
- Word Limit and Referencing
The project should not exceed 1,800 words. Fully reference all supporting documents and additional sources, including them in a bibliography.
Choose one of the four key concepts – change, creativity, ethics, or sustainability – as a lens through which to analyze your IA. While the key concept may not necessarily be stated in the research question, make it explicit on the title page which key concept you have selected. This choice will influence the analysis and evaluation of your research.
Step 2: Selecting a Relevant Research Question
Your research question is the cornerstone of your IA. It should address a real business issue or problem and relate directly to the concepts covered in the syllabus. Remember to choose a question that can be either forward-looking or backward-looking. For instance, questions like “Should company Y change its manufacturing to outsourcing?” or “How can company B enter the new market in country X?” are excellent examples.
Step 3: Conducting Research
Both SL and HL students should conduct thorough research to gather relevant data and information for their IA. It’s essential to consult various sources, including academic journals, books, and reliable online resources. Your project should include:
- Provide background information about the business organization.
- Clearly outline the issue or problem under investigation.
- Explain the methodology used for the investigation.
- Present and analyze findings from supporting documents.
- Utilize relevant business management tools and theories.
- Integrate the chosen key concept.
- Explicitly answer the research question.
- Do not introduce new facts or arguments not discussed in previous sections.
- Highlight aspects that may need further investigation.
- Internal Assessment Criteria
The business research project will be assessed against seven criteria related to the course’s assessment objectives. Familiarize yourself with each criterion to ensure that your project meets the highest standards:
Criterion A: Integration of a key concept
Criterion B: Supporting documents
Criterion C: Selection and application of tools and theories
Criterion D: Analysis and evaluation
Criterion E: Conclusions
Criterion F: Structure
Criterion G: Presentation
Step 4: Organizing Your IA
Now, it’s time to structure your IA. The standard structure includes:
- Introduction: Present your research question and provide some context
In the introduction, provide context for your research question. Explain why it’s important and how it relates to the field of business management. For instance, if your research question is, “How does a company’s corporate culture impact employee satisfaction?” you could begin by briefly discussing the significance of corporate culture in the modern workplace.
- Methodology: Explain your research methods and data collection process
Describe the methods you used to gather data. If you conducted surveys or interviews, explain the sample size, data collection tools, and the criteria for selecting participants. For example, “To assess employee satisfaction, we distributed a survey to 200 employees across different departments, using a Likert scale to measure their responses.”
- Analysis: Analyze the data and information you’ve gathered to address your research question
In the analysis section, delve into your findings and provide a thorough examination of the data. Use business management concepts and tools to support your analysis. For instance, if your data shows that employees in companies with strong corporate cultures tend to report higher job satisfaction, you can link this finding to concepts like organisational culture, employee motivation, and retention strategies. If you are doing research on marketing strategies, the Ansoff or BCG matrix would be good choices.
- Conclusion: Summarize your findings and draw a clear conclusion
Summarize the key findings from your analysis. In the example of corporate culture and employee satisfaction, your conclusion might state, “Based on the survey results and analysis, it is evident that a strong corporate culture positively influences employee satisfaction.”
- Recommendations: Suggest practical recommendations based on your analysis
Offer practical recommendations based on your analysis. For instance, you could suggest that organizations focus on building and maintaining a positive corporate culture to enhance employee satisfaction. Provide specific strategies and actions that businesses can implement, such as leadership training programs, open communication channels, and recognition initiatives.
- Citation and References: List all the sources you’ve cited in your IA
List all the sources you used in your IA in a standardized citation format, following the IB’s referencing guidelines. It is important to properly cite all sources you’ve used in your IA. Follow the IB’s citation and referencing guidelines diligently.
Step 5: Proofreading and Editing
Before final submission, carefully proofread and edit your IA. Ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and free from grammatical errors.
Step 6: Seek Feedback
Ask your teacher or mentor for feedback on your IA draft. They can provide valuable insights to help you refine your work.
Formatting is an often-overlooked but essential aspect of your IB Business Management IA. Proper formatting not only makes your IA visually appealing but also ensures that it’s easy to read and navigate. Consistency in formatting can make your work appear more polished and professional. Here are some formatting tips to enhance the presentation of your IA:
- Consistent Style: Use a consistent formatting style throughout your IA. This includes font size, type, and line spacing. The IB typically recommends a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial, size 12, and double spacing.
- Headings and Subheadings: Organize your IA with clear headings and subheadings for each section. This helps your readers follow the structure of your paper easily. Use a larger font size or bold formatting for headings to make them stand out.
- Page Numbers: Include page numbers in your IA, typically in the header or footer. This helps both you and your readers keep track of where they are in your document.
- Citations and References: Ensure that your citations and references are consistently formatted according to a recognized citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, or Chicago). This demonstrates academic rigor and gives credit to your sources.
- Tables and Figures: If you use tables, charts, or graphs to present data, label them clearly and provide brief explanations. Number them sequentially (e.g., Table 1, Figure 2) and refer to them in your text. Make sure they are visually clear and easy to understand.
- Margins and Page Layout: Check the required margin sizes and page layout for your IA. The IB may specify particular margin sizes for the top, bottom, left, and right sides of your pages.
- Word Count: Keep track of your word count to ensure your IA falls within the required range. Include a word count at the end of your document, excluding references and appendices.
- Appendices: If you have supplementary material, such as detailed survey questionnaires or raw data, include them in an appendix. Ensure that the appendix is well-organized and labeled.
In conclusion, the IB Business Management IA is a challenging but rewarding task for both SL and HL students. By understanding the specific requirements, selecting an appropriate research question, conducting thorough research, and following a structured approach, you can craft a high-quality IA that showcases your knowledge and analytical skills. Remember that while the difference between SL and HL IA is primarily in the complexity of the research question and depth of analysis, both levels require dedication and attention to detail. Best of luck with your IA!