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Business Extended Essay Question Hall of Shame

It’s EE season again at my school and that brings with it lots of fun and also lots of work helping students find their topic and then narrow down their research question. Over the years, I thought it would get easier to guide students, but this is one area where it always seems hard. Students are scared and nervous about finding the right question, they have so many ideas they can’t narrow it down, and also have little to no experience in writing research questions.


Forming a question needs to focus on 3 important factors:


1.     A theoretical concept studied academically by others.

-       It should be easy to find professionals who have studied this in academic journals and have a lot to say on the topic

2.     Something that the students enjoy and want to spend hours researching

-       Students don’t realize how many hours they will spend on the topic, so if they don’t like it, it can be really demotivating to continue to research something that bores them

3.     Appropriate scope to be written in 4000 words

-       This is where students have the biggest issues. The scope can be narrowed down by the business or industry they are studying. It can be a certain time period. It can be a subset of their theoretical topic. Narrowing it down by geographic area can help as well. For example, CSR in a business is too broad. But if you look at just the fair payment of workers in a China, then it will be doable in 4000 words.

Business student writing extended essay EE


While I give these recommendations every time students set off writing their research questions, I almost always have to help them construct a better question. Here are the worst questions I have gotten and feedback to make them better.


1.     To what extent has Coco-Cola’s advertising and marketing campaigns influenced the success of its brand recognition to gain a competitive edge? This one is way too broad. It is talking about all of the strategies from the beginning of time. Coca Cola has been around for over 130 years and has many products within the portfolio. It needs to be narrowed down.

2.     To what extent and how has Adidas sustained its innovation and competitive edge? This one is way too broad as well. It is also very general. How is the student going to look at innovation? What does a competitive edge really mean? This question needs a lot of work.

3.     To what extent do marketing campaigns in fast fashion brands have an effect on the business success comparing marketing in Zara and Ecoalf? Ok, I’m going to say it again, but it’s too broad. Marketing is so general. Also, comparing Zara and Ecoalf are like comparing apples and oranges. So this will not lead to good analysis and evaluation.

4.     To what extent will the acquisition of Xilinx by AMD help keep them competitive in the chip industry? While this question is ok, I knew the student would hate it. They had no interest in acquisitions or either of these companies. But, they saw a similar one receive an A so they changed the companies to try and copy what someone else did. They would have been so bored by the end of it.


So are these questions “Hall of Shame” worthy? Definitely not! Writing a research question and a research paper is all about trial and error and iterating the a question. But, I hope this helps to illustrate a few examples of poor research questions that would have lead to weak analysis and an over-reliance on description. The research question is the foundation of a good extended essay so both teachers and students should spend a lot of time here making sure it passes the three tests above.

If you want more help guiding students with the EE, check out my preparation pack below.

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