How to Structure a Business Management Extended Essay
Here is a step-by-step structure you can follow if you’re doing your Extended Essay in Business Management.
The layout has changed relatively recently, for example in terms of the cover sheet requirements and the reflections, but this post is up-to-date (and it includes a lot of helpful links).
Before we get started
Here are a few key points and other helpful links you’ll want to use:
- Be careful about choosing your research question. You’ve got a lot of options, but it shouldn’t be a practical/actionable business question, like you would use for your IA (i.e. should company X open a store in mall Y.) Here is a lot more advice about choosing a perfect EE RQ: The Research Triangle
- Cite all of your sources --preferably using MLA. I expect to see at least 5 cited sources on an average page.
- The E.E. should be in 12-point, preferably Arial or Times New Roman. And it should be double spaced, with numbered pages.
- Anything over the 4000 word limit won’t be read by your marker. (I’ve noted below how many words I recommend for each section and which sections don’t count in the word count.)
- About 18% of your EE marks now come from your reflections, so those are also important. Here’s how to do them: How to Write IB EE Reflections (IBM) so be careful with those too.
- And finally, when you’ve almost finished your first draft and you’re ready to make it better, you can meet with me to have a chat if you'd like.
Okay, here’s the structure.
The Business EE Structure
(Not included in your word count.)
The title page should include only the following information:
- Your EE title. This part is slightly confusing, because the title is not the same as your Research Question (RQ). The RQ is written in the form of a question, but the title should not be a question. Instead it is “a clear, focused summative statement of your research” (EE Guide, page 82). For example, “The Affects of the Acquisition of Instagram on Facebook.”
- Your Research Question. For example, “How has the acquisition of Instagram affected Facebook?”
- The subject (Business Management)
- Your word count
(Notice that you shouldn’t put your name, date, candidate number, or school name on the EE.)
Table of Contents
(Not included in your word count.)
All parts of your EE, with page numbers of course. (You can just copy and past my list to get you started).
- Main body
(Do not include an Abstract. You might see some of these on the older EE samples, but you don't need one now)
Introduction (Approx. 250 words)
- Tell us what organization(s) you’re researching and what these companies do.
- Tell us what you’ll be exploring and how (very briefly).
- Provide some context for your question. Tell us the situation that the question comes from.
- Tell us your research question again and explain to us why it is important to answer.
- Explain why this research is interesting and valuable to your audience.
Methodology (Approx. 350 words)
I recommend your methodology have two major sections. One for explaining your sources and one for explaining your tools.
You’ll notice that, as much as you’re telling us what you are going to use to answer the question (sources and tools), you’re also pointing out the limitations and weaknesses of these.
Methodology Part 1: Sources
- Describe each of your major sources of primary and secondary research. Tell us why they will be helpful and also a weakness or a limitation for each source. For example, how there may have been room for bias or a limited scope to your research. Or perhaps there are other reasons why other data you used could be unreliable or invalid.
- Remember that the majority of your research for the EE should come from secondary sources.
- Some helpful sources of secondary research are: company annual reports, news articles, magazine articles, business textbooks, and encyclopedias. More tips on sources here: How to Make Your Good Extended Essay Great (IBM)
- Mention any adjustments you made to your research as you progressed with your EE. There should be at least one.
Methodology Part 2: Tools
- Explain the tools you’re going to use (very briefly) and why (the purpose of each tool). Also tell us about some weaknesses or limitations of each of the tools you are going to use. This shows us that you know a lot about these tools.
- I explain in this Youtube video how to choose your tools (for your EE and your HL IA)
- If you need more help with this, there is a lot more advice and guidance in my Business EE program.
- Mention any changes made to your tools as you progressed with your EE. There should be at least one.
The Main Body (Approx. 2800 words)
This is where you’ll be sharing your research, analysis, discussion and evaluation.
Think of this section as also having two main parts.
- The first is for your tools. This is where you show off that you understand how to do the stuff you’ve been taught in Business Management class.
- The second is for the rest of your research. Most students will only do the “tools” section, but this second part is where you get to wow us with all of the impressive extra research that you’ve done, which goes beyond what is taught in the course.
Every single paragraph of the body needs to relate (in a very obvious way) to the research question. Don’t include tools or research which don’t help you answer your question.
Analysis Section 1: The “tools” part
- Include 4 or 5 tools, which help you answer your RQ. I explain in this Youtube video how to choose your tools
- As you write, follow the follow the JAM structure. (This is something I came up with myself, which most IB Business teachers use now)
- I recommend you include least one financial tool, if you can.
- To strengthen how many marks you’re getting, also try to follow the CT-CL-SW model explained here: How to Answer IB Business Management Questions (IBM)
- Put your qualitative tools (such as SWOT and PEST) before the quantitative ones (like ratio analysis and decision trees). Qualitative tools help set the scene and provide context for the financials.
Analysis Section 2: The “non-Course” stuff
This is where you really get to impress us. Often this is the part where you’ll actually teach the reader of your paper (and experienced Business teacher) a thing or two.
- Review several related theories and concepts, more extensively than the course does.
- Impress us. Give us the sense that you really do know how this industry works. Show that you’re the expert in several aspects of your question, or that you’ve at least asked experts.
- Here’s an example to help you. If you’re studying the effect of a merger in the pharmaceutical industry, you could look for information about
- Research about what makes a successful merger
- Research about some famous mergers in the pharmaceutical industry. Were these considered successful and why? (This could help you explore whether your merger has had similar outcomes.
- Make sure this section is analytical, rather than descriptive. Be very careful to make sure that all of your theories in this section are really helping you answer your RQ.
- A graph of some kind is recommended. But of course link your graph to the RQ.
- Sometimes you might learn that there is an analytical method which is commonly used in your industry (i.e. a ratio that isn’t taught in the course, or a way of measuring customer satisfaction). Feel free to include that in your EE here.
- If you can’t think of what else to include, look for interesting links to one of the concepts: change, culture, ethics, globalization, strategy and innovation which might help to answer your question.
- Here is more advice on doing Advanced Extended Essay Research (IBM) https://www.ibmastery.com/blog/advanced-business-extended-essay-research
Conclusion (Approx. 600 words)
Take time with your conclusion, so you can really emphasize everything you've discovered and how it all fits together to answer your RQ.
- Pull your mini-conclusions together (synthesize them), make some interesting insights based on them. This is where you really get to shine.
- Include several evaluative insights (i.e. pros and cons, short-term vs long-term effects, possible stakeholder conflicts). Here is some more help on writing effective evaluations in Business (IBM)
- Don’t include any new data in your conclusion.
- Mention some weaknesses and limitations of your research. There needs to be at least two. Show you have really reflected on your work. You could discuss possible inaccuracies in your work and the reasons for those. This is similar to how you write your EE reflections (IBM).
- Discuss other information would it be very valuable to have, but which you couldn't access. Or could you could explain some other “unresolved questions”, which you weren’t able to answer for whatever reason (i.e. access to data).
- Explain at least one thing that you would have done differently if you were to do it again.
(Not included in your word count. Aim for around 3-4 pages of sources)
This is where you reaffirm (remind the marker) all the great sources you used.
- Remember that your EE is mostly focused on your secondary sources.
- Include at least 3 books (one of these can be the textbook), 4 internet sources, and at least 3 sources which show your willingness to work hard and go beyond the minimum requirements (i.e. a trade journal, an advanced academic paper (IBM link), an interview with a competitor).
- Generally you should have at least one primary source (i.e. an interview, a survey, observation data, focus group data), but it is not mandatory to have a primary source.
- Make sure all of your bibliography sources are link to in-text references in your EE.
(Not included in your word count. Often this is around 3 or 4 pages)
The jury is out about appendices. The EE guide us us that “appendices are not an essential part of the extended essay and examiners will not read them, or use any information contained within them, in the assessment of the essay” (EE guide, Page 87). That seems pretty clear. And yet, they are still commonly used.
I would say the best use of appendices is to include artefacts from your process, which help to show the hard work that you’ve done.
- Transcripts from your interviews,
- Additional analysis you did which didn’t fit in the body of your EE.
- Questionnaire results, details of the calculations you did for your financial tools.
- Any other interesting data which you would like to refer to in the body of your work (i.e. a market map, which you mention in the main body of your work). You won’t exactly get “credit” for the work, but give you something else to connect the dots in your conclusion. Obviously, the best place for your analysis is in the Main Body, but sometimes you just run out of room (words) and you’ve
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