Business Management examines the ways businesses manage resources to achieve objectives. The VCE Business Management study design follows the process from the first idea for a business concept, to planning and establishing a business, through to the day-to-day management of a business. It also considers changes that need to be made to ensure continued success of a business. Students develop an understanding of the complexity of the challenges facing decision makers in managing these resources.

Unit 1 – Planning a Business

Businesses of all sizes are major contributors to the economic and social wellbeing of a nation. Therefore how businesses are formed and the fostering of conditions under which new business ideas can emerge are vital for a nation’s wellbeing. Taking a business idea and planning how to make it a reality are the cornerstones of economic and social development. In this unit students explore the factors affecting business ideas and the internal and external environments within which businesses operate, and the effect of these on planning a business.

Students investigate how business ideas are created and how conditions can be fostered for new business ideas to emerge. New business ideas are formed through a range of sources, such as identifying a gap in the market, technological developments and changing customer needs. Students explore some of the issues that need to be considered before a business can be established.

The external environment consists of all elements outside a business that may act as pressures or forces on the operations of a business. Students consider factors from the external environment such as legal, political, social, economic, technological, global and corporate social responsibility factors and the effects these may have on the decisions made when planning a business. Students investigate how the internal environment relates to the external environment and the effects of this relationship on planning a business.

The internal environment affects the approach to and success of business planning. The owner will generally have more control over the activities, functions and pressures that occur within a business. These factors, such as business models, legal business structures and staffing, will also be influenced to some extent by the external environment. Students explore the factors within the internal environment and consider how planning decisions may have an effect on the ultimate success of a business.

1. Coursework (50%)
2. Examination (50%)

Unit 2 – Establishing a Business

This unit focuses on the establishment phase of a business’s life. Establishing a business involves complying with legal requirements as well as making decisions about how best to establish a system of financial record keeping, staff the business and establish a customer base. In this unit students examine the legal requirements that must be satisfied to establish a business. They investigate the essential features of effective marketing and consider the best way to meet the needs of the business in terms of staffing and financial record keeping. Students analyse various management practices in this area by applying this knowledge to contemporary business case studies from the past four years.

It is essential to deal with legal and financial matters when establishing a business. Students are introduced to the legal requirements and financial considerations that are vital to establishing a business. They also consider the implications for the business if these requirements are not met.

Establishing a strong customer base for a business is an important component of success. Students develop their understanding that marketing encompasses a wide range of management practices, from identifying the needs of the target market and establishing a brand presence, through to considerations on price, product features and packaging, promotion, place, people, physical evidence and processes. They also consider effective public relations strategies and the benefits and costs these can bring to a business.

Staff are one of the business’s greatest assets and are an important consideration when establishing a business. The quantity and quality of staff has a direct link to business productivity and the achievement of business objectives. Students examine the staffing requirements that will meet the needs and objectives of the business and contribute to productivity and effectiveness. They research the processes undertaken by the business with relation to the recruitment, selection and induction of staff. Students consider the opportunities that the skills and capabilities of staff can contribute to the business, the legal obligations that must be addressed and the relationship between employers and employees within a business.

1. Coursework (50%)
2. Examination (50%)

Unit 3 – Managing a Business

In this unit students explore the key processes and issues concerned with managing a business efficiently and effectively to achieve the business objectives. Students examine the different types of businesses and their respective objectives. They consider corporate culture, management styles, management skills and the relationship between each of these. Students investigate strategies to manage both staff and business operations to meet objectives. Students develop an understanding of the complexity and challenge of managing businesses and through the use of contemporary business case studies from the past four years have the opportunity to compare theoretical perspectives with current practice.

Business foundations
This area of study introduces students to the key characteristics of businesses and their stakeholders. Students investigate potential conflicts between and the different demands of stakeholders on a business. They examine a range of management styles and management skills that may be used when managing a business and apply these to contemporary business case studies.

Managing employees
In this area of study students investigate essential factors such as motivation and training involved in effectively managing employees during their time at a business to ensure the business objectives are achieved. They consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Locke and Latham’s Goal Setting Theory and Lawrence and Nohria’s Four Drive Theory of motivation. Using the theories and motivation strategies, students propose and justify possible solutions to employee management in contemporary business case studies. Students gain an overview of workplace relations, including the main participants and their roles in the dispute resolution process.

Operations management
The production of goods and services is the core objective of businesses. Effective management of the process of transforming inputs into outputs is vital to the success of a business, both in terms of maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of the production process and meeting the needs of stakeholders. In this area of study students examine operations management and consider the best and most responsible use of available resources for the production of a quality final good or service in a competitive, global environment.

Unit 4 - Transforming a business

Businesses are under constant pressure to adapt and change to meet their objectives. In this unit students consider the importance of reviewing key performance indicators to determine current performance and the strategic management necessary to position a business for the future. Students study a theoretical model to undertake change, and consider a variety of strategies to manage change in the most efficient and effective way to improve business performance. They investigate the importance of leadership in change management. Using a contemporary business case study from the past four years, students evaluate business practice against theory.

Reviewing performance – the need for change
In this area of study students develop their understanding of the need for change. Managers regularly review and evaluate business performance through the use of key performance indicators and use the results to make decisions concerning the future of a business. Managers can take both a proactive and reactive approach to change. Students investigate the ways a business can search for new business opportunities as a source of future business growth and consider current forces for change on a business. They apply Lewin’s Force Field Analysis theory to contemporary case studies and consider approaches to strategic management, using Porter’s (1985) Generic Strategies.

Implementing change
In this area of study students explore how businesses respond to evaluation data. It is important for managers to know where they want a business to be positioned for the future before implementing a variety of strategies to bring about the desired change. Students consider the importance of leadership in change management, how leaders can inspire change and the effect change can have on the stakeholders in a business. They consider the principles of Senge’s Learning Organisation and apply the Three Step Change Model (Lewin) in implementing change in a business. Using a contemporary business case study from the past four years, students evaluate business practice against theory, considering how corporate social responsibility can be incorporated into the change process.

1. Coursework - Unit 3 (25%)
2. Coursework - Unit 4 (25%)
3. Examination (50%)