Task: Assume that you are an international-business consultant advising a small Australian firm with plans to internationalise. Your company for this semester’s report is Lazybones.
Lazybones designs and manufactures women’s and childrens’ clothing as well as soft furnishings. It has recently opened a retail outlet in Los Angeles and is considering opening another in either Canada or Mexico.
Your task is to analyse the political, economic, business environments and market potential of the two countries. You will also develop a weighted index. (There is an example in the ASSESSMENT/Country Analysis Report section of Blackboard.) Write a report justifying which is a better country choice for the firm.
Note 1: The QUT Business School prefers that first-year assignments have a limit of 1500 words. However students have told us that a slightly longer report makes their analysis more effective so your report may have a maximum of 2000 words (Word count covers Introduction to Conclusion except words in tables and graphs).
Note 2: Please DO NOT contact the company directly. If you have a query regarding the product, email firstname.lastname@example.org
After completing your report, submit SPARK ratings for yourself and your team members.
Getting started: Begin by reading Chapter 9 of the textbook. Then read widely about your two countries to gain a sense of their economic, political-legal and business environments.
During your tutorial, your group will meet and plan how your group will function.
Research broad indicators as well as those for variables particularly important to a retailer of high-end products.
Research the political environment with an emphasis on uncertainty and risk. For the business environment, the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business data provides a summary glimpse of features of interest to firms.
Include graphs and tables to summarise important data and show trends over time.
(1) Via the QUT library, students can access the following databases
EIU Country Data: An analytical database of worldwide economic indicators and forecasts. The service allows you to compare 117 countries across 271 economic series.
Global Market Information Database (Passport GMID): Provides business oriented statistics, analysis and forecasts for countries, companies, markets and consumers.
(2) Online sources
The World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report: An annual report on the competitiveness of nations, ranking and analysing how a nation’s environment creates and sustains the competitiveness of enterprises.
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade www.dfat.gov.au/
Austrade – http://www.austrade.gov.au/
Global Edge – http://globaledge.msu.edu/resourceDesk/
World Bank Ease of Doing Business: Economies are ranked on their ease of doing business, from 1 – 189. A high ranking on the ease of doing business index means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a local firm. http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom http://www.heritage.org/index/
(3) Country Risk
The Handbook Of Country Risk: A Guide To International Business And Trade is available as an e-Book via the QUT Library and online at http://www.coface.com/Economic-Studies-and-Country-Risks
Transparency International (www.transparency.org) Transparency International is a global organisation which aims to fight corruption, and rates countries on a Corruption Perceptions Index.
(4) Academic journals The QUT library provides access to many academic journals which include articles on global business via ProQuest.
Collaboration and Integration
Teams consist of four or five students so it’s important to complete your research at least a week before the due date to allow time to integrate your material and conduct your analysis, and arrive at decisions together.
All groups will meet briefly (around 8 minutes) in Tutorial 7. Groups should have completed their research by then and have at least a rough draft of the report. Take this opportunity to clarify any issues the group has either with your report or the functioning of your group.
Suggestion: All group members should be involved at all stages. For example, to get started, a group chooses four or five respected sources and each member researches broad details for BOTH countries from one source. Member One finds information for both countries from Austrade, Member Two consults GMID, Member Three accesses World Bank sites ……..etc.
Groups who divide the task by “ I’ll do political, you do economic, you do the introduction and conclusion and the executive summary …” risk ending up with a disjointed report and a worrying situation if a group member withdraws from the unit.
Writing the Country Analysis Report
Below is the expected format for your report. Some examples of Tables of Content, Executive Summaries and Report Body sections will be made available on Blackboard in the Assessment/Examples from Past Assignments folder.
Assignment cover sheet. This is available from the Blackboard site. Make sure you include correct names and student numbers for all members of your group.
Title page. In general this has a descriptive title, date, the name of your company and usually your name(s) and position within the company
Table of contents. Place the major headings and sub-headings down the left side of the page. On the right, put the page number where each can be found in the report.
Executive summary. This is placed on a separate page either before or after the table of contents and is your report in brief – approx 200 words. Include the purpose of the analysis, key points from each section, your choice of country and the main reasons for this choice. It should be a ‘stand alone’ section so it makes sense to someone who has not read the whole report. Executive summaries are usually written last even though they are placed early in the document.
Body of report This is the most important section.
Begin with an Introduction that includes the context, purpose and significance of the report. You may also include the scope. (eg. This report analyses the socio-political and economic environments of Egypt and Kenya, and commercial expansion potential for agricultural machinery.)
In a subsection of your 1.0 Introduction, (or as a separate section 2.0) include a very brief company and product(s) profile (50 words or less) If this seems strange, (i.e. why would you need to tell Lazybones staff about the company’s products?), remember that your report may be read by others not familiar with the product and your report must make sense to them.
Following the introduction, the remainder of the body section is presented in logical subsections. Your final headings and sub-headings will depend on what your analysis has uncovered and what is relevant to your client’s needs. Aim to find quality information, and evaluate what it means for selecting the preferred country for the business. Include some visuals (tables and graphs).
Country Choice Present here your choice of country. This section is particularly important for Criterion 2 and should include your weighted index, the reasons you included the variables and their weightings, and discussion of the major report findings and the advantage of your choice of country over the second country.
Conclusion Provide a very brief synopsis of your country choice and perhaps a recommendation for how to proceed. 50 – 70 words. (Note: in some texts on report writing Conclusions is treated as a large section following presentation and discussion of data; in your report, however, you will have already presented your conclusions in your Country Choice section so the Conclusion section signals the end of the report.)
List of references List the sources cited in your report using APA referencing. See QUT cite/write (http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/).
To reference the databases you’ve used, treat them as a webpage or follow the guidelines given in the Referencing Databases file in the ASSESSMENT section of Blackboard
Appendices (No more than four pages.) Include tables/ figures/ other material important to understanding your decision but which is too large to include in the body or which would have interrupted the connectivity of your analysis.
Submitting your Report
A few points to note before handing in your Country Analysis report.
• If you want feedback on your assignment, attach the criteria sheet.
• Staple the top left hand corner – please don’t bind your report.
• Attach the Faculty of Business Cover sheet (Available in the Assessment/ Country Analysis section of Blackboard).
• Only one student from each group needs to sign the Cover Sheet but do make sure all group members’ names are spelt correctly and that you list correct student numbers.
• Submit your report at Assignment Minder on Monday 27 April. NO EXTENSIONS.
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