Mr Marcus McGowan MSc PgDip BA (Hons)

This Business Education Learning Blog is aimed primarily at Higher Business Management students/teachers and ICT students/teachers.

The aim of this blog is to provide you with interesting articles, news, trivia as well as resources or links to materials which will help in your course of study.

I am a Teacher of Business Education and I have written for Education Scotland and BBC Bitesize.

If you'd like to contact me please click on the link to: email me

Friday, 14 December 2018

PESTEC - External Factors - Brexit - Higher Business Management

For candidates in Higher Business Management who need an example for the impact of an external factor, look at the impact Brexit has had on the pound. The diagram below illustrates how the uncertainty and the proposed leaving of the EU has seen the pound drop sharply at different stages against the dollar, with it only picking up slightly when either a “soft” Brexit has been mooted, or some plan/agreement has been proposed or finalised.


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Autostadt Volkswagen - Higher Business Management

Here’s an interesting video on Volkswagen’s Autostadt plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. The car tower is impressive, and in fact was seen in scenes from Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (though it was set in Mumbai).



Higher Business Management - Selection Tests

Selection tests of different kinds are used for different jobs.


Below in the table you will see the different types of tests you will be asked about in Higher Business Management, and what they actually measure, and examples of where they are used:


It may surprise you that IQ tests are not being used as often now as they are viewed as having a limited way of measuring intelligence.


Time for Albert Einstein’s famous quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Actually to muddy the waters even more it sadly wasn’t Einstein who said this quote. It only appeared long after his death. But it is still an excellent quote which has much in line with Gardiner’s multiple intelligences theory.

Higher Business Management - Assessment Centres

In Higher Business Management’s Human Resources topic, a selection method which is often used for graduate and managerial jobs is called an Assessment Centre. This is normally a one or two day series of activities (it may also be residential) whereby candidates undergo scrutiny to get the all important position.


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Higher Business Assignment

After Christmas we will need to make a start on our Assignment.


Here are the key issues you have to be aware of:


u  Assignment is still worth 30 marks but now weighted as 25% of overall course assessment.

u  2,000 word maximum (not including appendices, reference etc).

u  There is a penalty for exceeding word count by 10%.

u  1 mark removed from Collating and reporting (now called Structure) and added to Analysis and Interpretation (now 13 marks)

u  Analysing tool no longer necessary

u  No maximum of pages

u  1.5 line spacing

u  Clear font

u  Font size of 12

u  Number pages

u  Name & title on every page

u  Do not staple pages together

u  Still 4 pages maximum of appendices.


Have a think about which company you wish to use, and have a think about what you wish to investigate. It is your assignment. Make sure you choose a business that you are interested in.



Higher Business Management Textbook

Some pupils have asked which textbook I would recommend. There are several excellent ones out on the market just now, but I was a big fan of the original Peter Hagan book and now with the revisions to the Higher, there is a new version coming out just after Christmas. It is more expensive than most of the others, but I think it is comprehensive and laid out in a format I seem to like.




National 5 Business Management Prelim

Good luck today to our pupils sitting the National 5 Business Management today.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

National 5 Business Management - Factors Affecting Location Decisions (Place)

In N5 Business Management, Place, one of the 4 Ps of the Marketing Mix, has several factors which will affect where a business will locate.


As you can see below the most obvious will be the first 4:


Type of Business – some businesses need to be near customers (retail outlets), others need to be near resources (oil rigs)

Finance – sometimes rent or property prices will place a part in where a business will locate.

Footfall – how many people pass by the business is important if you are a retail business.

Competition – often you do not wish to have many competitors nearby or at all. The Ptarmigan restaurant at the top of the Cairngorm mountain is such an example.


Saturday, 8 December 2018

Higher Business Management Prelim

Hope the prelim went well for our 50 plus students who sat the Higher Business Management exam today. The paper was fair but challenging. But the hard work is only just beginning.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Scottish Film Studio in Leith

Good news for the Scottish economy.


Types of Decision

In Higher Business Management, types of decision often crops up. It is actually a very easy question which will normally be a compare question. So dust down your use of “whereas” for differences and “both” for similarities.


Ensure you make direct comparisons i.e.:


“A strategic decision is a long term decision whereas a tactical decision is short-medium term.” = 1 mark.


How many marks there are mean you need to make as many comparisons.


Matrix Structure - Higher Business Management

In Higher Business Management, the Matrix Structure is another type of organisational structure that is used when projects are being implemented.



Hope this will help for Higher Business Management revision.

Corporate Culture - Higher Business Management

In Higher Business Management, Corporate Culture is a common question. It either will ask you to describe how it is used in businesses or how to achieve a strong corporate culture or a question on the benefits of corporate culture.


Culture is defined as “The way we do things around here”.


Corporate culture is the beliefs and behaviours which managers and employees adopt to enable the business to achieve its aims. Usually it is not specifically defined but develops organically over time and become the unwritten rules and values of the business. The culture will be reflected in every aspect of the business, for example dress codes, layout and d├ęcor of premises, symbols/logos, terms and conditions of employment, employee incentives, eg employee of the month, and customer service.


The Benefits of Corporate Culture


        Employees feel part of the business

        Increased staff motivation

        Improved employee loyalty

        Increased productivity

        Improved employee relationships.


These advantages can reduce absenteeism and staff turnover, and will help the company in terms of customer loyalty and recruitment.


Know your stuff and know your application of the command words.

Marketing: Sales Promotion - into and out of the pipeline - Higher Business Management Revision

More Higher Business Management revision here:


One question often asked Higher candidates is about Sales Promotion and in particular the into the pipeline and out of the pipeline methods. Into the pipeline methods are aimed at retailers who are enticed by suppliers and manufacturers to take more of their products. Out of the pipeline is more familiar to us as it concerns retailers trying to entice customers (us!) to purchase more.


Channels of Distribution - Higher Business Management Revision

I like using T-charts for revision. Here are the ones I have created and use with my pupils for the advantages and disadvantages of the Channels of Distribution:

Channel A “Direct Channel”

Advantages to firm

Disadvantages to firm

Ø  Fastest way to market

Ø  Highest profit margin

Ø  Have control over product


Ø  Expensive to open many branches

Ø  Customers need to physically come to store (geography may be an issue)


Channel B – Manufacturer – Warehouse – Outlet - Consumer

Advantages to firm

Disadvantages to firm

Ø  Helps reduce unneeded stock

Ø  High volume of sales




Ø  Low profit margin

Ø  Can damage brand value/image

Ø  Customers may not want “old styles”


Channel C – Manufacturer – Wholesaler – Retailer - Consumer

Advantages to firm

Disadvantages to firm

Ø  High sales/volume

Ø  Wholesalers hold stock, reducing risks& costs for firms


Ø  Low margins/discounts

Ø  Less control over product (i.e. advertising & shelve placement)


Channel D – Manufacturer – Retailer - Consumer

Advantages to firm

Disadvantages to firm

Ø  Wide customer base

Ø  Increased sales

Ø  Retailers may do promotions for the firm

Ø  Customers can buy in small quantities


Ø  High competition for retail space

Ø  Have to “pitch” to retailer

Ø  Delivery costs to retailer by road/rail

Ø  Less control over marketing mix


Channel E  - Manufacturer – Etailer - Consumer

Advantages to firm

Disadvantages to firm

Ø  Cheap overheads

Ø  Wide customer audience

Ø  Can sell 24/7



Ø  Massive competition

Ø  High advertising spend needed to let customers be aware of products

Ø  Postage delivery costs



Channels of Distribution

Channels of Distribution is a topic often performed poorly by Higher Business Management candidates.


Here is what the channels look like:



In the next post I will discuss the costs and benefits of each channel.


Higher Business Management Revision.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Tesco to offer free electric car charging points


There is also a follow up to this with an article about electric cars that could be charged within 10 minutes:


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Brexit - External Factors in Action

As PESTEC External Factors go this is the biggest issue facing UK businesses since the Second World War. Is that hyperbole? Brexit is the ideal External Factor example as it touches on almost every factor of PESTEC. It is obviously a Political Factor as it has been decided by a referendum and now implemented by the Government. But there are Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Competitive impacts on British firms.


After the result of the vote in 2016 the Pound crashed against the Dollar. What will happen if the Prime Minister’s proposed deal is voted down at the House of Commons?




Kellogg's to highlight nutritional content in UK

What will be the impact of this (if any) to Kellogg’s?



Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Quality Circles


A group of 6–12 people who meet to identify quality problems, consider solutions and recommend suitable outcomes to management.


Members are drawn from the factory floor but include engineers, quality inspectors and salesmen to offer different viewpoints. (Managers may or may not be included.)


Why use quality circles?

      No-one knows production problems better than the workers.

      Workers appreciate the chance to display their knowledge and skill.


Thursday, 22 November 2018

The Future

I wonder how true or close to reality this old post from 2012 is?


“As I have said before it seemed that when the internet and the mobile phones came out, the world got smaller. It was a quantum leap in the way we live our lives and how we communicate with each other, not just everyday but across continents. Social Media like Facebook and Twitter mean that friends I have in far flung places such as Hong Kong and Australia are not out of sight. I probably communicate with some of them far more frequently than ones in my home city!

But I have a feeling that this next decade is going to be quite memorable in terms of innovation. We are on the cusp of a revolution both in terms of communication, manufacturing and transport.

So I’ve tried to tie together some of the interesting articles, ideas and products I have seen over the last year or so into tidy headings.


3D Printers


Project Glass

Google Now


3D Coach

Driverless Cars

High Speed Rail


Vertical Integration at Ford Rouge - Higher Business Management

Vertical Integration in action at the Ford Rouge plant in Detroit, Michigan. Good illustrative example for Higher Business Management and the Operations topic.

Henry Ford was famous for his control freak behaviour. For true backward vertical integration look up Fordlandia in Brazil.




Just in Time Delivery - Higher Business Management

Just in time delivery in action at the Ford Rouge plant in Detroit, Michigan. Good illustrative example for Higher Business Management and the Operations topic.


Ford Rouge Eco Garden

The Ford Rouge plant in Detroit, Michigan. The image below is of an eco-friendly roof garden to offset the pollution caused by the factory.



Our Black Friday Obsession

I never realised that Black Friday has been a thing since 2010. I thought it was more recent. The article below looks at the UK’s obsession  with the monster sales event.


Monday, 1 October 2018

5 a side firm in trouble


PowerLeague to close 13 pitches as it goes into administration.

UK Family Food Shop


An interesting article on how cheap our food is and the impact Aldi and Lidl have had on supermarket industry.


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

African aims for a Free Trade Zone

Great news from the continent of Africa. The 1.2 billion people who live there (with the exception of Nigeria who have withdrawn at the last moment) plan to create a Free Trade Zone similar to the EU Single Market. The economic impact and benefits to the diverse and varying countries could signal a shift towards raising the standard of living.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Future Transport


Remember the straddling bus from China? Well this may be the next generation of traffic congestion solving transport… and these designs are equally as innovative and impressive, but also perhaps more realistic.


Friday, 9 March 2018

Minimum Wage

Wagamama and TGI Friday’s are to be fined after it was found they do not pay their employees the National Minimum Wage:


Think of the implications and consequences for this… bad PR may affect sales.



Visitors by City

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed