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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.


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. Here is a lot more advice about choosing a perfect EE RQ, see 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 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. 


The Business EE Structure


Title page

(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).

  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Main body
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices  

(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 you’re researching and what the company does.
  • Tell us what topic you’ll be exploring.
  • Provide some context for your question. Tell us the situation that the question comes from. Set the scene, so we can understand the analysis to come.
  • 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. 250 words)

In this section you'll tell us what sources and tools you'll use to answer the question. I will list these as separate sections (sources and tools), but it actually works a little better to combine them, clarifying how certain sources will be used with particular tools. And then follow the same order you'll use in your analysis section.


  • 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
  • If you need more help with this, I can talk you through it one-on-one. 


  • 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. 


Analysis (Approx. 3100 words)

This is where you’ll be sharing your research, analysis, discussion and evaluation.

Think of this section as also having two main parts.  

  1. 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.
  2. 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 a model I created that's now used by most IB Business teachers. It helps you on the rubric, in a few different ways. 
  • I recommend you include least one financial tool, if you can.
  • Put your qualitative tools (such as SWOT or PEST) before the quantitative ones (like ratio analysis or a decision tree). Qualitative tools help set the scene and provide context for the financials.
  • In your mini-conclusions, mention a weakness or limitations (i.e. unavailable data).  


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.

  • Share a tool from beyond the course, i.e. a model that is used in the industry to explore the aspects you're analysing. Give us the sense that you really do know how this industry works. 
  • 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 what makes a successful merger. If you find an article laying out the Four Determinants of a Successful Merger you could measure your merger against those four criteria. 
  • If you 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.
  • Here is more advice on doing Advanced Extended Essay Research


Conclusion (Approx. 400 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. Make it clear that your insights here are based on your analysis. 
  • Include several evaluative insights (i.e. pros and cons, short-term vs long-term effects, possible stakeholder conflicts). 
  • Don’t include any new data in your conclusion.


Works Cited

(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 perhaps 3 books (one of these can be the textbook), 15 internet sources, and at least 3 quite impressive sources that show your willingness to go beyond the minimum requirements (i.e. a trade journal, an advanced academic paper).
  • 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


Written by Tim Woods

Tim created IBMastery in 2009. Since then he’s helped many thousands of IB students and teachers around the world. Tim is now available for personal tutoring almost every day, to help you get your best possible marks in IB. Click here to work with him.