Stepping out of the classroom, flying into the Case Study…

This is the second post by Business Management teacher Danielle Maguire, of  Jumeirah English Speaking School, whose department chose to deliver their Business Management course using the concepts as lenses. In this post, Danielle describes how a field trip to Thailand was a focus for examining connections between concepts, content and context.

If you have read my previous post regarding teaching IB Business Management through the six themes, then you may be aware that I am very much the advocate of the new concept based approach for first examination in 2016. This post will examine the usefulness and application of case study contexts for the course via the use of a residential school trip to examine in detail a real life business in day to day operation.

As practitioners in this subject area, am sure most of us are familiar with the demands of planning and executing a school residential trip as part of the IB curriculum. Popular trips worldwide include bustling cities like London and New York, where students are often taken to the Stock Exchange, National Banks and various business style tours to gain an understanding of the wider concepts. Such trips are enriching and educational, however, to some extent, they do not allow a student to be emerged in a one particular business and study it in depth. After a recommendation from a colleague, the IB Business Management school trip for Year 12 JESS students this year was a week-long visit to the Maekok River Village Resort (MRVR) in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand. The resort itself integrates both an Education Centre for school trips with a high end luxury resort for the avid traveler or those seeking a relaxing break. A focus on the local community and aiding economic activity in the local area make gives the resort a strong sense of purpose and warmth.

So what did the MRVR have to offer in terms of allowing the BM students a chance to make connections with concepts, content and case studies? As soon as we arrived, the 14 strong group were immersed into the resort. They were quick to see its USP, staffing, location, target market groups and levels of customer service. Throughout the week, students were able to listen to detailed and informative talks from the owner of the resort, ex Geography and Economics teacher Bryan Massingham. They were able to ask questions regarding aims and objectives, changing strategies, the ethics of employment choices and how an organizational culture has been fostered built upon a paternalistic and autocratic leadership style. Students could make connections between local Thai cultures, and for example, how democracy and employee participation in terms of suggesting new ideas may be seen as disrespectful, limiting the need for a democratic style approach.

Each day, inbetween outdoor activities such as rafting and trekking, it was interesting to have conversations with students who deemed that they understood how it all ‘fitted together’. The overriding themes of culture, change, ethics, globalization, innovation and strategy could be seen throughout the resort. In fact, at the end of the week, students delivered a presentation to the owner regarding strategies to increase current profitability. Indeed, I was able to see the links between the themes in the presentations and just how much students had learnt during the course of their stay. At the end of the week I can honestly say that the JESS students had a detailed and holistic view of the business and local area. Additionally, visits to local businesses in the area including an Orange Orchard allowed for a greater understanding of external influences and the local economy. The students also delivered an Enterprise Day at a local school as part of their CAS project which highlighted the ethics of the MRVR is aiding the community, again linking to one of the key themes.

In conclusion, was the trip a success? Certainly. Could the students write a Paper 2 section C essay about the MRVR relating for example to culture and strategy? Most definitely. Are the students interested in the business itself? Very much so. This trip combined fun activities with a very interesting study of a business in operation. To be immersed every day in examining its operations and being able to talk to staff and management was invaluable to the students. If you really want students to connect the dots, transport them into the case study itself!

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