Criteria & Marking:
Two very important skills students learn in an arts or a general business degree are to be able to analyse a situation and communicate the results of that analysis clearly to persons who have not studied it.
These are the same skills that are involved in writing a problem-oriented essay, i.e. one in which argues to verify a hypothesis. Below are some suggestions for essay topics.
Suggested Term Essay Topics
Companies must be able to adapt to the business environment, which consists of every factor which can affect the success of businesses, and to changes in it if they are to survive. For all the questions below the business environment is an important consideration. Keep that in mind when you write your essay.
1. Why are the Overseas Chinese so dominant in business in Southeast Asia? What cultural and other factors explain this dominance?
2. Is guanxi as used in business inherently irrational or illicit? Examine its use according to circumstance with regard to its being a rational, irrational, illicit or lawful and above board.
3. Choose a Southeast Asian country and examine the question of Chinese business dominance at present (since 2000). Do the Chinese still dominate? Why? Is culture a factor?
4. So Korea suffered greatly from the Asian Financial Crisis (1997) after which its companies made a number of changes in the way they operated. Taking the stereotypical Korean chaebol as a baseline, examine the changes companies made and explain why they made them.
5. The prevailing image of the Japanese management system, particularly its HRM practices, pertained to very large companies. Does this apply to small and medium companies (SME)? Compare the HRM practices used by Japanese SMEs with those in large ones and explain why the differences exist. What does this tell us about culture as an explanation of Japanese business practices?
6. Understanding Chinese management styles help expatriates in China to be more effective in cross-cultural management. Argue for or against this point of view.
7. Japan's bubble economy burst in the late 1980s, sending Japan into a prolonged period of very slow growth from which they began to recover only in 2003. Japanese society also changed greatly in that time, particularly the outlook of people under 40. How are these events reflected in the Japanese enterprise management system?
8. Western business systems are (ideally) based on transparency and the rule of law. Examine the extent to which this is true about a country in East or Southeast Asia and explain the differences.
9. Critically argue the extent to which Confucian values can explain ’economic miracles' over the past 40 years in a number of Asian countries?
Papers should be structured as an argument. You need to set up a hypothesis or problem, a point you will argue as if you were taking a position in a debate. Papers will be marked on the basis of the problem, clarity of presentation, consistency of argument and handling of evidence and counter-evidence.
You should be able to say about your essay:
'I have a central thesis, and I have stated it clearly at the beginning of the essay.'
‘I have set out clearly how I will demonstrate the validity of my hypothesis.’
'I have several points to make which support that central thesis.'
'I have overtly identified ways to establish these points'
'I have cited and refuted counter-evidence.'
'I have tested my thesis in the text of my paper and have concluded that it is right (or wrong).'