THE REPORT TASK
Businesses are faced with a multitude of challenges and need to be aware of influences and changes in
their external environment, so they can identify and respond to opportunities and threats. With this in mind
the report task is to:
“Discuss and analyse the influence of two issues in the external macro environment that you think could
present opportunities, or pose threats, for firms in an industry of your choosing.” When discussing these
issues consider how aspects of a firm’s immediate micro environment (i.e. consumers, competitors,
suppliers, stakeholders) might influence how they navigate these issues. For example, what are key
players doing regarding the issue; what is the response/pressure from stakeholders such as consumers?
GUIDANCE FOR STUDENTS
The Aim of the Report
The assignment will assess your ability to discuss and analyse evidence to formulate clear and wellreasoned arguments. To help formulate clear arguments you will need to use credible online and academic
sources (such as journal articles and textbooks) to support your discussion and explanations. You should
also use company examples to help support and illustrate the points you are making for each chosen issue.
These examples are most likely to be found in the credible online news media or industry reports.
s.html)Identifying Issues to Discuss
A range of potential issues (i.e. important topics/trends/developments for discussion) will be introduced in
the lecture recordings in weeks 5-10. These lectures will introduce broad elements of the macro
environment that you could consider (as specified in the PESTEL or ESTEMPLE frameworks) as well as a
range of potential issues that you could discuss under each of these elements such as sustainability,
ecological and environmental concerns, technological developments and digitalisation, societal changes
and innovation. When considering which issues to analyse be specific. For example, rather than just saying
technological factors are important, you need to provide a specific example of a technological issue (e.g.
rise of social media) that is relevant.
Structuring Your Report
Report format requires the use of numbered headings and sub headings. Guidance will be given on how to
format and structure the report in the seminars in week 5. However to set general expectations please be
aware that the report should contain a title page and a contents page. It should also contain the following
four sections, which should be numbered:
1. Introduction: Introduce the report task. As part of this you will introduce your chosen industry and
highlight some key issues and challenges that firms operating in this industry needs to be aware of and
2. The main body of the report: This will analyse the key issues in the external environment that you have
chosen to discuss. At the start of the section briefly summarise which key issues you are focusing on and
why, as well as which PESTEL element the issues fall under. When discussing your chosen issues you
must put forward a clear argument of why you think they are important (i.e. why they should be on a firm’s
agenda) and how they might create opportunities or pose threats. Don’t call this section ‘the main body’,
instead use a context specific title. It is important that in this section you illustrate and support your
arguments with references and specific examples.
3. Conclusion: A short conclusion should be drawn from your discussion in the main discursive section of
the report to summarise the key points made.
4. Reference list
• This must include full references for all sources cited in the report. You must use Harvard Style
referencing for in text citations and the reference list.
• Think about the credibility of the sources you use to support your arguments. You will probably cite
several online sources as many of the issues you are discussing are likely to be topical and media based.
However, you should also seek to investigate academic sources for information. For example, journals
such as the Harvard Business Review often discuss issues such as innovation, technology and
sustainability from a managerial and practitioner perspective.