General business and management

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1 General business and management 2007

2 The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2007 ISBN All QAA's publications are available on our website Printed copies of current publications are available from: Linney Direct Adamsway Mansfield NG18 4FN Tel Fax Registered charity number

3 Contents Preface iii Introduction 1 The nature and extent of general business and management 1 Subject knowledge, understanding and skills 2 Teaching, learning and assessment 4 Benchmark standards 4 Appendix A - Membership of the review group for the subject benchmark statement for general business and management 6 Appendix B - Membership of the original benchmarking group for general business and management 7

4 Preface Subject benchmark statements provide a means for the academic community to describe the nature and characteristics of programmes in a specific subject or subject area. They also represent general expectations about standards for the award of qualifications at a given level in terms of the attributes and capabilities that those possessing qualifications should have demonstrated. This subject benchmark statement, together with others published concurrently, refers to the bachelor's degree with honours 1. In addition, some subject benchmark statements provide guidance on integrated master's awards. Subject benchmark statements are used for a variety of purposes. Primarily, they are an important external source of reference for higher education institutions (HEIs) when new programmes are being designed and developed in a subject area. They provide general guidance for articulating the learning outcomes associated with the programme but are not a specification of a detailed curriculum in the subject. Subject benchmark statements also provide support to HEIs in pursuit of internal quality assurance. They enable the learning outcomes specified for a particular programme to be reviewed and evaluated against agreed general expectations about standards. Subject benchmark statements allow for flexibility and innovation in programme design and can stimulate academic discussion and debate upon the content of new and existing programmes within an agreed overall framework. Their use in supporting programme design, delivery and review within HEIs is supportive of moves towards an emphasis on institutional responsibility for standards and quality. Subject benchmark statements may also be of interest to prospective students and employers, seeking information about the nature and standards of awards in a given subject or subject area. The relationship between the standards set out in this document and those produced by professional, statutory or regulatory bodies for individual disciplines will be a matter for individual HEIs to consider in detail. This subject benchmark statement represents a revised version of the original published in The review process was overseen by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) as part of a periodic review of all subject benchmark statements published in this year. The review and subsequent revision of the subject benchmark statement was undertaken by a group of subject specialists drawn from and acting on behalf of the subject community. The revised subject benchmark statement went through a full consultation with the wider academic community and stakeholder groups. QAA publishes and distributes this subject benchmark statement and other subject benchmark statements developed by similar subject-specific groups. 1 This is equivalent to the honours degree in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (level 10) and in the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (level 6). iii

5 The Disability Equality Duty (DED) came into force on 4 December The DED requires public authorities, including HEIs, to act proactively on disability equality issues. The Duty complements the individual rights focus of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and is aimed at improving public services and outcomes for disabled people as a whole. Responsibility for making sure that such duty is met lies with HEIs. The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) has published guidance 3 to help HEIs prepare for the implementation of the Duty and provided illustrative examples on how to take the duty forward. HEIs are encouraged to read this guidance when considering their approach to engaging with components of the Academic Infrastructure 4, of which subject benchmark statements are a part. Additional information that may assist HEIs when engaging with subject benchmark statements can be found in the DRC revised Code of Practice: Post-16 Education 5, and also through the Equality Challenge Unit 6 which is established to promote equality and diversity in higher education. 2 In England, Scotland and Wales 3 Copies of the guidance Further and higher education institutions and the Disability Equality Duty, guidance for principals, vice-chancellors, governing boards and senior managers working in further education colleges and HEIs in England, Scotland and Wales, may be obtained from the DRC at 4 An explanation of the Academic Infrastructure, and the roles of subject benchmark statements within it, is available at 5 Copies of the DRC revised Code of Practice: Post-16 Education may be obtained from the DRC at 6 Equality Challenge Unit, iv

6 1 Introduction 1.1 The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) asked the Association of Business Schools (ABS), as the national representative body for business and management education, to establish a subject benchmarking group drawn from, and acting on behalf of, the subject community, in order to review the existing subject benchmark statement for general business and management as part of a periodic review of all subject benchmark statements published in ABS was pleased to accept this invitation. 1.2 The revisions undertaken to the original subject benchmark statement are of a minor nature and include some modifications to layout and wording, taking into account developments in the subject area since it was produced. 1.3 This subject benchmark statement is for general business and management honours degree programmes only. These programmes are categorised as being broadly based and general in their scope, rather than being oriented towards a particular business function (for example, marketing or finance) or sector (for example, tourism or land management). 1.4 The subject benchmark statement articulates the knowledge and skills to be expected of successful honours graduates in the field and provides descriptors of these in two categories of achievement: threshold and typical (defined later). 1.5 The subject benchmark statement is intended to be of use to those involved in the design, delivery and review of business and management programmes but is not intended to be a prescription of a national curriculum or to constrain innovation in programme design. It is the responsibility of individual institutions to decide which of their particular programme specifications are appropriate to this subject benchmark statement. 1.6 This subject benchmark statement has been devised to relate to guidelines and position papers at the undergraduate level produced by EQUAL - the European QUAlity Link. 2 The nature and extent of general business and management 2.1 The purpose of general business and management programmes is threefold: study of organisations, their management and the changing external environment in which they operate preparation for and development of a career in business and management enhancement of lifelong learning skills and personal development to contribute to society at large. 2.2 'Organisations' should be understood throughout this text to include a wide range of different types including, for example, public, private and not-for-profit, together with a comprehensive range of sizes and structures of organisations. Similarly, the term 'business' should be interpreted generically. page 1

7 2.3 'Preparation for business' should be taken to mean the development of a range of specific business knowledge and skills, together with the improved self-awareness and personal development appropriate to graduate careers in business with the potential for management positions and to employability in general. This includes the encouragement of positive and critical attitudes towards change and enterprise, so as to reflect the dynamism and vibrancy of the business environment. 2.4 Not every graduate will engage subsequently in a business and management career, or will have entered directly from secondary education. Therefore, lifelong learning skills should be understood to include the development and enhancement of a range of general transferable intellectual and study skills, which, while being highly appropriate to a career in business and management, are not restricted to this. 2.5 While there is a clear expectation that all such general degree programmes should cover these three purposes, the actual balance will vary among individual higher education institutions and may also reflect the requirements for recognition by professional bodies. The particular balance being delivered should be explicable and demonstrable in terms of the specified learning outcomes of particular programmes. 3 Subject knowledge, understanding and skills Knowledge and understanding 3.1 There is an expectation that degree programmes covered by this subject benchmark statement should provide a broad, analytical and highly integrated study of business and management. 3.2 Graduates should be able to demonstrate relevant knowledge and understanding of organisations, the external environment in which they operate and how they are managed (see below). There is likely to be an emphasis upon understanding and responding to change and the consideration of the future of organisations and the external environment in which they operate. 3.3 The interrelationships among and the interconnectedness between these areas are very important within the overall student learning experience, and should be demonstrated in the capabilities of successful graduates from all modes of delivery. 3.4 Organisations - this encompasses the internal aspects, functions and processes of organisations including their diverse nature, purposes, structures, governance, operations and management, together with the individual and corporate behaviours and cultures which exist within and between organisations and their influence upon the external environment. 3.5 External environment - this encompasses a wide range of factors, including economic, environmental, ethical, legal, political, sociological and technological, together with their effects at local, national and international levels upon the strategy, behaviour, management and sustainability of organisations. 3.6 Management - this encompasses the various processes, procedures and practices for effective management of organisations. It includes theories, models, frameworks, tasks and roles of management together with rational analysis and other processes of decision making within organisations and in relation to the external environment. page 2

8 3.7 Within the framework of these three main areas, it is expected that graduates will also be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding in the following areas: markets - the development and operation of markets for resources, goods and services customers - customer expectations, service and orientation finance - the sources, uses and management of finance; the use of accounting and other information systems for managerial applications people - the management and development of people within organisations operations - the management of resources and operations information systems - the development, management and exploitation of information systems and their impact upon organisations communication and information technology - the comprehension and use of relevant communication and information technologies for application in business and management business policy and strategy - the development of appropriate policies and strategies within a changing environment, to meet stakeholder interests pervasive issues - sustainability, globalisation, corporate social responsibility, diversity, business innovation, creativity, enterprise development, knowledge management and risk management. Skills 3.8 Business and management degrees are strongly related to practice and therefore there should be a strong link between the development of skills and employability of graduates. 3.9 Graduates should be able to demonstrate a range of cognitive and intellectual skills together with techniques specific to business and management. Graduates should also be able to demonstrate relevant personal and interpersonal skills. These include (not in any particular priority order): cognitive skills of critical thinking, analysis and synthesis. This includes the capability to identify assumptions, evaluate statements in terms of evidence, to detect false logic or reasoning, to identify implicit values, to define terms adequately and to generalise appropriately effective problem solving and decision making using appropriate quantitative and qualitative skills including identifying, formulating and solving business problems. The ability to create, evaluate and assess a range of options together with the capacity to apply ideas and knowledge to a range of situations effective communication, oral and in writing, using a range of media which are widely used in business such as the preparation and presentation of business reports numeracy and quantitative skills including data analysis, interpretation and extrapolation. The use of models of business problems and phenomena page 3

9 effective use of communication and information technology for business applications effective self-management in terms of time, planning and behaviour, motivation, self-starting, individual initiative and enterprise effective performance, within a team environment, including leadership, team building, influencing and project management skills interpersonal skills of effective listening, negotiating, persuasion and presentation ability to conduct research into business and management issues, either individually or as part of a team for projects/dissertations/presentations. This requires familiarity with and an evaluative approach to a range of business data, sources of information and appropriate methodologies, and for such to inform the overall learning process self reflection and criticality including self awareness, openness and sensitivity to diversity in terms of people, cultures, business and management issues. Also, the skills of learning to learn and developing a continuing appetite for learning; reflective, adaptive and collaborative learning It is recognised that all programmes covered by these standards need to address issues at the European and international business levels. Where specific emphasis is placed upon this, for example, in the title or in requiring study and or work abroad, then appropriate business and cultural understanding and, where appropriate, foreign language capability should be developed and demonstrated by graduates. 4 Teaching, learning and assessment 4.1 There should be an integrated teaching, learning and assessment strategy, which is explicit and demonstrates the appropriateness of the teaching and learning methods used, and assessment methods adopted, in relation to the intended learning outcomes and skills being developed, linked to the mode of delivery and the student profile. 4.2 There should be integration between theory and practice by a variety of means according to the mode of delivery including, for example, work-based learning, work experience or placement, exposure to business issues including employer-based case studies, visits and inputs from visiting practising managers. 4.3 It is recognised that achievement in certain (skills) components may be difficult to assess. Nevertheless graduates will be expected to have attained appropriate achievement in knowledge, understanding and skills taken as a whole. 5 Benchmark standards 5.1 The standards of achievement expected of graduates in business and management are set out in paragraphs 5.4 and 5.5 below. These relate to the areas of subject knowledge, understanding and skills set out in section. 5.2 Two categories which differentiate graduate achievement have been identified, namely threshold and typical. These are based upon the perceived national norms, operating across the business and management area. 'Threshold' describes the minimum to be achieved by all honours graduates. 'Typical' is set at the standard which is currently page 4

10 achieved by the majority of graduates. Paragraphs 5.4 and 5.5 seek to describe, particularly for the benefit of employing organisations, the capabilities that can be expected of such graduates. 5.3 The factors which have been selected as the basis for differentiation between the two categories of achievement are the range and consistency of demonstration of: breadth, depth, integration and application of knowledge and understanding subject-specific and intellectual skills personal and interpersonal skills learning skills capability to deal with uncertainty and complexity the capabilities of evaluation, reflection, creativity and originality. Threshold standard 5.4 On graduating with an honours degree in general business and management, students will typically have: knowledge and understanding of the key areas of business and management, the relationships between these and their application demonstrated competence within the range of subject-specific and intellectual skills a view of business and management which is predominantly influenced by guided learning with a limited critical perspective. Typical standard 5.5 On graduating with an honours degree in general business and management, students will typically: have a wide knowledge and understanding of the broad range of areas of business and management and the detailed relationships between these, their application and their importance in an integrated framework consistently demonstrate a command of subject-specific skills including application of knowledge, as well as proficiency in intellectual skills have a view of business and management which is influenced by a variety of learning sources including guided learning, team work and independent study be distinguished from the threshold category by their enhanced capacity to develop and apply their own perspectives to their studies, to deal with uncertainty and complexity, to explore alternative solutions, to demonstrate critical evaluation and to integrate theory and practice in a wide range of situations. page 5

11 Appendix A - Membership of the review group for the subject benchmark statement for general business and management Professor Mary Carswell (Chair) Dr Helen Higson Professor Malcolm King Professor Huw Morris Professor David Parker Professor Robert Paton Jonathan Slack Tom Thomas Professor Jean Woodall University of Derby Aston University Loughborough University The Manchester Metropolitan University Cranfield School of Management University of Glasgow Association of Business Schools Southampton Solent University Oxford Brookes University page 6

12 Appendix B - Membership of the original benchmarking group for general business and management Membership details below appear as published in the original subject benchmark statement for general business and management (2000). Professor I Beardwell Professor J Dawson Professor C Greensted (Chair) K Harrison Dr J Holloway W Hornby Professor M King Dr C Morris Professor D Parker S Proudfoot Professor M Quayle R Warren Professor T Watkins Professor S Watson J Slack (Secretary) De Montfort University University of Edinburgh University of Strathclyde Sheffield Hallam University The Open University The Robert Gordon University Loughborough University University of Hertfordshire Aston University London Guildhall University University of Glamorgan The Manchester Metropolitan University South Bank University Lancaster University Association of Business Schools page 7

13 The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Southgate House Southgate Street Gloucester GL1 1UB Tel Fax Web QAA /07

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